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Michael Clayton

#100 - Michael Clayton
Tony Gilroy, 2007

A veteran lawyer who serves as a "fixer" for his firm is called in to handle an unruly colleague whose behaviour is threatening to derail a major lawsuit.

Michael Clayton is a competent but decidedly unspectacular corporate thriller. As the titular lawyer, George Clooney is an appropriately gruff and cynical character but not without a heart (as best evidenced by his being a divorced dad who still manages to connect with his son) and that works, I suppose. Veteran character actor Tom Wilkinson hams it up as a spanner in some very corrupt works, oscillating between being merely scene-stealing and scenery-chewing, so it's hard to tell how effective his performance really is. Tilda Swinton won the film's sole Oscar as Clooney's cold, meticulous opposite number, and while she is good at playing that kind of character, the script doesn't give her all that much to work with. This is a fairly standard legal conspiracy that involves a lot of tough-talking, icy cities with seedy underbellies, callous characters who are willing to kill for their interests and a plot that's aiming for just the right amount of convolution so it's neither predictable or uninteresting. It's not all that predictable, but it's not all that interesting either. It could have been a bit leaner (and maybe could have avoided beginning the story near the chronological end, because that sucks the tension out of the climax big-time).