Michael Clayton

I finally saw MICHAEL CLAYTON…it was my test drive using the Amazon Unbox to rent a movie on my TiVo (a service which I liked). If you haven’t seen the movie, you can stop reading now, because I’m going to spoil some things.

I thought George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Sydney Pollack were terrific and some of the dialogue really crackled, but  the simple plot was inexplicably and needlessly hard to follow at times and there were some logic flaws that pulled me right out of the movie, ultimately ruining it for me.

The bad guys did a slick and professional job of killing  Wilkinson’s character and making it look like a suicide, thus establishing them as formidable opponents. But then they put a  car bomb in Clayton’s Mercedes.  Why!?  Why not stab him  in an apparent "mugging gone bad" or run him over as he’s crossing the street? Why kill him in a manner that will draw an enormous amount of attention — the exact opposite of what the bad guys wanted? It was stupid and sloppy writing, made worse when Clayton is able to fool them (and apparently the police) into thinking he’s dead even though there’s no charred corpse in his car… just his wallet and his watch. Did his body get vaporized?

There was also one niggly detail that bugged me, too. At one point they say Clayton was born in 1959. Then, a few scenes later, Clayton says that he’s 45. The math just doesn’t add up (and the movie clearly takes place in 2007, sine he’s driving a brand new SL).

I also don’t get how Tilda Swinton got nominated for an Oscar, much less won the thing, based on her small role…

8 thoughts on “Michael Clayton”

  1. Thanks, Lee. I wondered the same things. But my biggest problem was “WHY KILL HIM? He’s NOT the one to kill, he’s the one you bribe to payoff everyone else.” Imagine my surprise when Clooney uses the same argument at the end.
    Anyone who has asked me about it, my reply is “Have you ever seen THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR? Then you’ve seen MICHAEL CLAYTON.”

  2. The tossing his watch and wallet in the burning car was dumb. Wouldn’t the wallet burn beyond recognition, distroying his i.d cards? I thought the entire plot to be pretty lame and often totally confusing. What’s up next for us to watch?

  3. Lee,
    I had much the same reaction as you did — enjoyed Clooney’s performance but scratched my head at the OVERALL story. Had the same problem with Gone Baby Gone, where I found myself saying, “C’mon now, I ain’t buying this.” I don’t know what is going on with screenwriting these days that these lapses of logic and dramatic arc are tolerated. Hell, maybe even encouraged?
    But then my opinion is soured because I just watched a real stinker last night, “Suspect 0.” That’s two hours I will never get back…

  4. As an idea of how far the people in Guelph, Ontario, Canada will go not to pay $9.25: the Guelph City Library has ordered 6 copies of the film on DVD, and they are awaiting delivery; meanwhile, there are 53 requests pending.
    Similarly with novels. The Library buys about 6 copies of Robert B Parker books when they come out. They are so popular, here, that the waiting time to borrow one is a couple of months.
    Are Canadians for the birds? Cheap, cheap, cheap? 🙂

  5. PJ,
    I was never a big fan of Lehane’s book (though I loved the first two “Kenzie” novels) and I thought the movie was a bore. Casey Afleck was woefully miss-cast in the lead. He had no balls, no presence. He looked 12-years-old (which they tried to explain away in a throwaway line of dialogue in a scene where Morgan Freeman, acting-wise, ate him for lunch). The scene where Afleck threatens the drug dealer was laughable. But the actress who played the drug addict mother was amazing and should have won the Oscar she was nominated for.

  6. I thought the same thing about the lack of the body — the explosion (to the audience) just didn’t look big enough to vaporize anything. BUT, I totally bought the car bomb thing overall, simply because the assassins would’ve surely uncovered his debts (especially those at the poker table). I thought they went with a “cruder” method on purpose to really make it look like he was a victim of those heavy financial debts to nefarious people.
    I also pictured a scene off camera where Clooney kills a drifter and shoves him the front seat (sans teeth).

  7. The span of time between his “death” and the wrap-up of the story was just a couple hours, right?
    Remember, Clooney had the cops (including his brother) with him at the very end. Maybe he went straight to them and the death thing was simply to throw everyone else off, since he wasn’t sure who his friends were.
    The watch and wallet thing was pointless, however.


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