A hardened lawyer pursues a case that appears to have pushed his colleague to the edge.
Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is called in to help his long time friend Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) after he suffers some form of breakdown in the middle of a boardroom meeting. However, this ‘breakdown’ is not what it first seemed, and actually is a cry for help I. The taking down of a huge chemical company. Unfortunately for Arthur, Michael realises this too late, and then has to take down the whole of United Northfields by himself, whilst also attracting the company’s attention which, when there is a multi-billion dollar lawsuit in hand, isn’t something you particularly want to do.
Michael Clayton is one of those legal thrillers that critics love and basically anyone who doesn’t have a career within the legal system hates, or at least strongly dislikes. I’ll be honest with you, I had to read up online about what actually happened in this film because I had no clue other than a chemical company was more or less going to kill everyone and it was down to one man to stop it. The thing with films about mega-bucks takedowns is you need to know how things work in that type of environment, and if you don’t know anything about it, it’s really of no interest to you. I spent half of the film trying to figure out what was going on, and when I finally found out, I just didn’t care.
In this case, normally the film would be salvaged slightly by loveable characters, or interesting characters, or just characters of any general description, but with Michael Clayton there just seemed to be nothing to get attached to with these characters. Take Michael himself for example; there really were no defying features other than he had a son, a drug-addict brother and a gambling problem. So what does he do? He throws himself into his work, of course. But other than that, there was nothing to cling onto, and seeing as a lawyer with a crappy personal life is nothing new, feeling sorry for him didn’t work.
Then there was Karen Crower, played by Tilda Swinton. Swinton won an Oscar for her part of Karen, who is heavily involved with Untied Northfields. Congratulations to her obviously, but I must say I found it to be a pretty underwhelming performance, and because of the business bitch persona she took on here, I found it quite hard to warm to her as well.
For me, the only real joy came at the end when United Northfields discovered just how screwed they were. Unfortunately, that was only a mere forty-seven seconds in the whole two hour film.
I’d definitely say that Michael Clayton is probably an alright watch provided you know what it’s about. However, I’d also say that it’s not for everyone, certainly not for me, and if you’re like me, you won’t be rushing out to watch it for a second time. A real love it or loathe it, I reckon.