Director Martin Scorsese doesn’t give a hoot about the technicalities of stock scamming. In “The Wolf of Wall Street,” he is strictly in it for the party. And, boy is there a lot of partying ... three hours worth on screen.
The anti-hero here is a real Wall Street wildman named, Jordan Belfort, played as a nonstop screaming pep talker by Leonardo DiCaprio. After a brief failed stint at a legitimate Wall Street firm, Belfort starts his own company, the falsely hightoned Stratton Oakmont. There, his legions of hustlers sell “pennystocks,” inflating the value and then dumping their own shares. This nets Belfort and his buddies millions in profit, while the investors lose out.
As the money rolls in, Belfort is not one to keep quiet about it. He unleashes elaborate orgies in the office and everywhere else, with a parade of prostitutes and unchecked pill-popping, coke-snorting and booze-imbibing. He replaces his loyal wife, Teresa (Cristin Milioti) with a trophy-type, Naomi (Margot Robbie); buys a Ferrari, a horse-breeding farm, a McMansion, and a homogenous yacht. The FBI gets a whiff of his corruption and, ultimately, brings him down. But, he cuts a deal, does some prison time and, today, Jordan Belfort is a motivational speaker and sucking in bucks from the book-and-movie rights to this movie.
Does crime pay? It seems to.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” follows the same pattern that Scorsese established with “Goodfellas” and “Casino”: a charismatic criminal takes us on a tour of his life in the underworld, accenting each moment of indulgence.
Scorsese is such a flamboyant filmmaker that it looks like loads of fun. Is there a downside? I doubt it. But, that’s entertainment.