Michael Clayton DVD Review
by Kam Williams
Convoluted Clooney Potboiler Comes to DVD
Although attorney Michael Clayton (George Clooney) has been with Kenner, Bach and Ledeen for 17 years, he's never made partner. Ironically, he still enjoys a certain grudging status, since the nature of his work makes his services invaluable to the prestigious Manhattan law firm.
As the office's fixer, his job involves mopping up everybody else's messy situations, even if that might sometimes mean breaking the law. But nothing in his checkered career has prepared him for the chain of events about to unfold in the wake of the mental breakdown of Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson). Edens is the colleague in charge of defending a billion-dollar class action suit against an agro-chemical company accused of manufacturing cancer-causing chemicals.
After six years as the lead lawyer on the case, Edens inexplicably did a striptease while mumbling incoherently during a deposition being conducted in Milwaukee. So, the firm's managing partner (Sydney Pollack) rushes his reliable "fixer" to Wisconsin to do damage control.
However, Clayton soon discovers that he's in over his head because Edens hasn't merely gone off his meds as suspected, but has had a crisis in conscience and plans to go public with some of his client's incriminating internal memos. Plus, the rogue attorney has developed a crush on one of the plaintiffs, a cute, young, milk-fed farm girl (Merritt Wever).
Thus, corporate ethics is at the center of the intricate web woven by this modern morality play. Employing a clever wraparound as a cinematic device, the flashback flick opens with some visually-captivating pyrotechnics provided by the deliberate detonation of Michael's late model Mercedes by saboteurs. He survives the explosion, before the plot rewinds to four days earlier, only to build back up, inexorably, to the familiar "Do I look like I'm negotiating?" showdown featured in the commercial.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity.
Running time: 120 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Extras: Additional scenes, commentary by director Tony Gilroy and editor John Conroy.
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