DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Tony Gilroy
George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Michael O'Keefe, Sydney Pollack, Danielle Skraastad, Tilda Swinton
Writing Credits:
Tony Gilroy

The Truth Can Be Adjusted.

A law firm brings in its "fixer" to remedy the situation after a lawyer has a breakdown while representing a chemical company that he knows is guilty in a multi-billion dollar class action suit.

Box Office:
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$719,910 on 15 screens.
Domestic Gross
$41.653 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 120 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 2/19/2008

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Tony Gilroy and Editor John Gilroy
• Additional Scenes
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Michael Clayton [Blu-Ray] (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 18, 2015)

Only a two years after his win for Syriana, George Clooney returned to the pool of Oscar nominees for 2007’s Michael Clayton. Clooney plays the title character, an attorney who works as a “fixer”. His firm sends him in to take care of difficult situations for their wealthy clients. For his next assignment, he needs to take care of Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), an attorney who appears to have gone a little bonkers.

While he works on a lawsuit involving a massive conglomerate called United Northfield – or “UNorth” for short - Edens cracks and starts to behave in bizarre ways. For instance, he strips naked during a court deposition. This occurs due to the morality – or lack thereof – related to Arthur’s job, as the law firm tries to protect UNorth from an action connected to a weed killer with some toxic side effects.

It turns out that the honchos at UNorth knew about those harmful issues and covered them up, a fact that eventually drives Arthur over the edge. He can’t take the guilt attached with his attempts to defend such heinous behavior, so he loses control – and actually starts to gather evidence against UNorth. The movie follows Clayton’s attempts to “fix” the situation with Arthur as well as the UNorth side of things as well, a movement headed by the company’s chief counsel Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton).

I regard Clayton as a throwback to the films of the Seventies, and I mean that in a good way. Granted, the flick nods toward its influences a little too strongly, and the result can seem a bit self-conscious at times.

Nonetheless, it usually does a good job in the way it captures the gritty spirit of Seventies dramas. I don’t know if it’s as complex as the best of those flicks, but it does attempt a certain moral ambiguity that makes it intriguing.

At its heart, Clayton works due to a strong cast. That doesn’t mean I feel the actors must compensate for poor writing or directing, as that’s not the case; both of those elements and the rest of the production are perfectly solid. However, I believe that weaker actors would’ve easily sent the story down a trite path, so they elevate material fraught with potential potholes.

As the lead, Clooney carries a lot of the load, and he does well in that vein. I don’t know how much heavy lifting he does here, though, as Clayton doesn’t differ a lot from the usual Clooney slick customer. However, Michael comes across as a much more fallible and vulnerable version of the standard Clooney role. The actor dials back his innate charisma to deliver something subtle and rich.

Swinton’s turn as corporate lackey Crowder proves even more memorable. One sign of a strong performance comes from perceived screen time versus actual screen time. I saw Clayton theatrically, and my memories told me that Swinton appeared a ton.

However, that’s not the case; she actually shows up relatively infrequently. Ala Hannibal Lecter, Swinton’s Crowder provides a character who makes the absolute most of limited footage. Swinton forms an indelible impression with the role and also makes sure that Karen never becomes a one-dimensional white-collar villain. No, she doesn’t make Crowder likable or sympathetic, but Swinton humanizes her and creates a surprisingly real personality.

I suppose the weakest link of the main actors comes from Wilkinson’s take on Arthur. I don’t want to call it bad work, as it’s not, but Arthur feels like the most obvious performance of the bunch. Wilkinson clearly channels Peter Finch from Network and doesn’t do quite enough to turn Arthur into much more than a raving nutjob.

Admittedly, much of this comes from the nature of the part; outside of one quick scene in which Arthur reminds us of his legal acumen, the movie doesn’t offer much for him to do other than act crazy. Still, I wish Wilkinson had dialed back his performance some to give the role more nuance.

I also could’ve lived without the stock villains Karen sics on her opponents. These guys feel like they’re from another movie, as they seem like generic black bag operatives who exist simply to motivate some plot points. They do that, but I think the filmmakers could’ve come up with more creative ways to do the same thing. The goons never quite fit into the world of this movie.

Even with that and a few other minor flaws, Michael Clayton proves satisfying. It gives us a character-based legal drama that remains consistently involving. While it reinvents no wheels, it does more than enough to succeed within its own world.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Michael Clayton appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not great, this became a mostly satisfying presentation.

Sharpness was usually appealing. A little softness crept in at times, a factor that seemed exacerbated by some edge haloes, but the majority of the film appeared pretty concise and accurate. No issues with shimmering or jaggies occurred, and print flaws remained absent.

In terms of colors, Clayton went with a lot of teal. Other scenes opted for a more orange/amber feel, but a bluish tint dominated. Within those parameters, the hues seemed fine.

Blacks were dark and deep, and shadow detail seemed quite good, as low-light shots demonstrated fine clarity. The haloes and occasional light softness made this a “B-“, but I still thought the movie was mostly well-depicted.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Michael Clayton, it presented a laid-back experience. This wasn’t a dynamic action flick, so general ambience dominated the soundfield. I thought it added a little environmental material but nothing that stood out as memorable. Even the sequence in which Clayton’s car exploded remained unimpressive in terms of scope. Music provided a little more kick, but overall, this was a subdued mix.

At least I thought audio quality was good. Music showed nice range and clarity, with crisp highs and solid lows. Effects lacked much punch, but they were acceptably accurate and clean. Speech was an important commodity and worked fine. The lines were always natural and concise. This became a serviceable mix that seemed appropriate for a film of this sort.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio was literally identical. Clayton hit Blu-ray in the bad old days where Warner often failed to provide lossless soundtracks, so this disc replicated the same DD 5.1 track from the DVD.

At least the visuals showed improvements. The Blu-ray seemed tighter, smoother and more film-like. Though never a great presentation, the Blu-ray delivered a clear step up in quality.

The Blu-ray replicates the DVD’s extras, and we start with an audio commentary from director Tony Gilroy and editor John Gilroy. The brothers sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They start with a look at the project’s origins and development before they dig into cast and performances, editing and cinematography, story and deleted scenes, score, sets and locations, and a few other production specifics.

Even though they claim to hate self-congratulatory commentaries, the brothers can’t resist the urge to throw out a lot of praise, especially as the flick progresses. Nonetheless, they go over more than enough good info to make this a worthwhile discussion. Tony dominates and digs into plenty of informative subjects. I could live without the happy talk, but I think the track emerges as a generally good one.

Three Additional Scenes last a total of five minutes, 42 seconds. The first (3:27) shows a secret romantic fling between Clayton and a coworker, while the second (1:26) shows the follow-up for the hit and run case Michael handles. For the final clip (0:49), we see more prep for the planting of the car bomb.

Scene One feels pretty superfluous to me; it’s vaguely interesting to learn something about Michael’s private life, but I don’t think it adds to anything since we already get a good feel for the dead-end life lived by Clayton.

Scene Three is pretty pointless, I believe, as it’s just technical chit-chat, though it does attempt to tell us why the baddies went with such a noisy way to kill Michael.

I like Scene Two, as it’s good to find out just what Michael does for the hit and run that we learn of early in the film. Yeah, it doesn’t really serve the plot, but it bothers me that the final cut leaves us hanging about that circumstance, so I like this segment.

We can watch these with or without commentary from Tony and John Gilroy. They tell us a little about the scenes and let us know why they cut them. Their remarks give us some nice insights.

If you desire a nice throwback to the stark dramas of the 1970s, Michael Clayton should satisfy you. It maintains that era’s grittiness and lack of sentimentality but still manages to feel modern and fresh. Some excellent performances help buoy it and make the movie memorable. The Blu-ray offers generally good picture and audio with a few useful bonus materials. Clayton holds up well as a solid drama.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of MICHAEL CLAYTON

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main