Michael Clayton

Michael Clayton (movie)George ClooneyTony GilroyTilda SwintonSydney Pollack

Michael Clayton (George Clooney) makes big money covering up particularly nasty scandals for the clients of a major New York corporate law firm. But his latest assignment—the sudden mental breakdown of his respected friend and colleague (Tom Wilkinson)—hits a little too close to home. It also threatens the pending settlement of a massive lawsuit against an agrochemical company, which leaves their chief counsel (Tilda Swinton) scrambling for damage control.

Big question: After last winter’s box office bomb “The Good German” and this summer’s unnecessary sequel “Ocean’s Thirteen,” can Clooney regain the momentum he earned with 2005’s one-two punch of “Good Night, and Good Luck.” and “Syriana”?

Catch it:
An engrossing intellectual thriller with a shrewd grasp of crowd-pleasing storytelling, “Michael Clayton” is the kind of Hollywood movie we could use a lot more of. The layered narrative uses a morally ambiguous lead character to explore a system where ethically-challenged behavior leads to major financial rewards and it's easier to go with the flow than to take a stand for what's right. Plus, the acting is first rate. Clooney, Wilkinson and Swinton all merit serious Oscar consideration.

Skip it: If you want to believe all lawyers are morons or heroes. The complicated characters in “Michael Clayton” aren’t so easy to label.

Bottom line: An impressive directorial debut for screenwriter Tony Gilroy (he had script credit on all three “Bourne” movies), expect to hear positive word of mouth on this smart and entertaining movie for some time to come.

Bonus: Clooney also serves as an executive producer, but he’s not the only one doing double duty on and off camera. Filmmaker/actor Sydney Pollack plays Clayton’s boss and also produced the film.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Michael Clayton (movie)George ClooneyTony GilroyTilda SwintonSydney Pollack
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