Talented British actor Tom Wilkinson plays Arthur Edens, the lead attorney on the case who goes off his anti-psychotic meds and starts a chain of events that lead to the chaos. Its up to the law firm's fixer, Michael Clayton (George Clooney), to clean up the mess and get the trial back on track because its been dragging on for years and the firm's financial health depends on a successful conclusion in the near future - whatever the final verdict ends up coming from the jury. But our boy Michael has something of a gambling problem, which has basically destroyed his personal life and when he tries to save his brother from the loan sharks, he turns to his boss to get a large loan from the firm. Clayton's been the go-to guy when it comes to saving clients from everything from DUI arrests to even shadier deals, so he knows "where all of the bodies are buried", as the saying goes. So, one the one hand he's invaluable to the firm, but on the other hand when he comes asking for money, his boss suspects a shake-down is brewing.
Meanwhile, Tilda Swinton plays Karen Crowden, the chief counsel for uNorth, the corporation that makes the pesticide. Having recently moved up the food chain to her current lofty position, thanks to her boss getting promoted to the board of directores, Crowden is nearly buckling under the pressure herself. She knows that there's a smoking gun lurking in the files because Arthur Edens is threatening to disclose everything to the plaintiffs. Its a case of do or die for her, and she's not above making people disappear to save herself.
Its a very slow-starter, but your pulse does start to pick up near the middle of the movie when all of the little sub-plots start to mesh. George Clooney shows his underappreciated talents here with a very low-key portrayal of this complicated character. Tilda Swinton is outstanding as she shows Karen Crowden shivering in fear as she prepares for the board meeting, then collects herself enough to make it through her presentation. Its a movie for movie-lovers. Extras on the DVD include commentary by director Tony Gilroy and film editor John Gilroy, and additional scenes.
Rainbo Electronic Reviews published this review in our March, 2008 issue.
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