News

REVIEW: ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ one helluva ride

REVIEW: ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ one helluva ride

THE WOLF: Cast members Leonardo DiCaprio (R) and Jonah Hill arrive for the premiere of the film "The Wolf of Wall Street" in New York in this file photo from Dec. 17. Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

By George Wolf

So, how rich do you want to be?

In the opening minutes of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” 26-year-old Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) tells us making 49 million dollars in a year only pissed him off, because he really had his heart set on a million a week.

How did he ever pay the phone bill?

Belfort, the real life stock market wizard who hit it big in the 1990s and wrote the memoir the film is based on, was more concerned with paying for drugs, hookers, yachts and lavish parties, as well as staying one step ahead of the Feds who were looking to bring him down.

No doubt, the man has an incredible story to tell, and director Martin Scorsese tells it perfectly, uncorking a terrifically frenzied, wickedly funny three hour showcase of unchecked hedonism.

This is no hand-wringing reflection on the wages of sin, just a swaggering, appropriately superficial and completely entertaining lesson in the American dream.

DiCaprio is nothing short of electric, giving perhaps the most can’t-take-your-eyes-off-him performance of his career. He takes Belfort from a wide-eyed Wall Street rookie (under the unhinged tutelage of Matthew McConaughey in priceless cameo) to a drug-addled zillionaire with the perfect blend of vanity and paranoia, always leaving you anxious for his next move.

As Belfort’s partner-in-crime Donnie Azoff, Jonah Hill again delivers a terrific supporting turn, and one particular scene with he and DiCaprio wrestling over a telephone, both characters locked in a quaalude stupor, is alone worth the price of admission.

Scorsese and screenwriter Terence Winter strike just the right tone with the story of Belfort’s rise and fall. They invite comparisons to both Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” speech and Scorsese’s own “Goodfellas,” then remind you this is another era entirely as DiCaprio breaks the fourth wall, speaking asides directly to the audience as if we were accomplices. Which, of course, we are.

The ridiculous degree to which America worships the uber-rich deserves the riotous, foot on the gas, keep up or get out approach Scorsese employs. Belfort and his ilk knew only one credo: bigger, louder, faster, more. That’s exactly what “The Wolf of Wall Street” delivers.

Sit down, shut up, and get ready for a helluva ride.

Verdict: 4/5 Stars

Recent Headlines

in Local

Gunman Prompts Lockdown of Rural Springfield Mobile Home Park

sangamon county sheriff

Sangamon County Sheriff's Deputies say a lockdown at the Lincoln Place Mobile Home park in unincorporated Springfield near Riverton has ended.

in Local

State Appellate Court Rules for FutureGen

coal

A state appellate court handed the FutureGen Alliance a big victory Tuesday.

in Local

Quinn to Public: Slow Down on the Roads

road construction

A crash that killed four people on I-55 has the governor talking about highway safety

in Local

Arizona Man Charged in Half-Brother’s Death

police_tape

An Arizona man is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his half-brother from Petersburg.

in Local

Springfield AT&T Layoffs Total 188

ATT-Logo1

AT&T plans to close the Springfield call center and cut 188 jobs starting August 3.