Martin Scorsese’s fact-based drama THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (18: Universal) is an exhilarating tale of decadence and debauchery.
It’s the director’s fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio and the closest he has come to duplicating the highs of the eight films he made with Robert De Niro.
DiCaprio turns in a charismatic lead performance as high-flying New York finance executive Jordan Belfort.
He became a multimillionaire in the 1990s through fraudulent share trading and stock-price manipulation and the film charts his rise and fall.
Scorsese assembled an excellent cast, including Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey, that keeps the demented momentum hurtling forwards.
DiCaprio and Hill, as Belfort’s larger-than-life sidekick Donnie, create a whirlwind of havoc that recalls the hectic, cocaine-fuelled energy of Goodfellas, but without the brooding, omnipresent threat of violence.
The tone is flat-out black comedy with X-rated laughs, most of them coming from Belfort’s various sex and substance addictions, which perfectly offset the Sopranos-style dialogue.
> That film is not to be confused with the simultaneously released ASSAULT ON WOLF STREET (18: Metrodome), a thriller with a solid cast featuring the likes of Edward Furlong, John Heard, Keith David and Michael Pare.
When Rosie (Erin Karpluk) is diagnosed with a brain tumour, her former soldier husband Jim (Dominic Purcell) decides to cash in his military pension to pay for her treatment.
But his financial advisor tells him much of his money has been lost in bad investments.
Jim borrows money from a colleague and hires an attorney to sue before taking matters into his own hands by going on a spree to kill every man on Wall Street who has abused his power.
> In one of his final roles before his death in a car crash, Paul Walker goes full redneck in HUSTLERS (18: Lionsgate), three tales of grindhouse revenge linked by a small-town pawn shop in America’s Deep South.
Spliced, Creepshow-fashion, with comic-book panels, Walker’s hillbilly meth-addict Raw Dog is joined by Elijah Wood as a serial rapist and Brendan Fraser as a crappy Elvis impersonator who strikes a deal with the devil.
Matt Dillon, Vincent D’Onofrio and Thomas Jane are also in the line-up, but the script is weak and the stories second hand.
> The Vietnam War and the protest movement back home are seen through a very soft lens in soapy romantic drama LOVE AND HONOR (12: High Fliers).
Two soldiers – strait-laced Dalton (Austin Stowell) and prankish Mickey (Liam Hemsworth) – get a week’s leave from the war.
Instead of exploring Asia’s brothels, they head to a hippie-filled Michigan, where they pose as deserters and Dalton attempts to discover why his girlfriend Jane – now calling herself Juniper – has given him the heave-ho.
The film’s modest budget wouldn’t matter as much if the director hadn’t cut corners elsewhere, dropping the soldiers into one stock 1960s situation after another.
It’s a lightweight drama full of heavyweight war-is-hell monologues.