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Specialist Attorney Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is called in when friend and colleague Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) has an apparent mental breakdown that could cost one of their firms biggest clients ‘U-North’ millions of dollars.

 Michael Clayton
Michael Clayton struggles to understand his friend's mental state and when he uncovers the intricacies of Eden’s ranting and the shadowy underhand tactics, actioned by Oscar winning Tilda Swinton’s character Karen Crowder, he is not only fighting for his friends reputation but his own life.

Once in a while a gritty drama comes along that has it all. A layered interesting plot, characters you can really get behind and a pay off that the story deserves (as opposed to the usual Hollywood ‘let's blow somthing up’ default ending). Michael Clayton is one of those movies, and having not seen it since 2007 I have to say I enjoyed it even more this time around.

At the centre of this movies success is the mighty George Clooney. This guy can do no wrong in my book, especially of late (and disregarding the early stint in the Bat-suit). He’s always engaging, always one hundred percent believable in his roles and carries the weight of this heavy going plot with ease. Michael Clayton is a character that is a little lost in the wilderness, not sure where he stands in his job, knocked a little off balance in his personal life,(due largely to his brother’s drinking and drug habits) and now with his friend seemingly gone mad, he’s struggling to keep a hold of everything.

 Michael Clayton
Adding more weight to this is an almost pitch perfect depiction of the ugly side of big business. Tilda Swinton—who is essentially presenting us with a face to represent the corrupt business dealings of U-North—deserved every shiny inch of her Oscar, mainly due to the fact she depicts a bad guy in the real world with subtle genius. She somehow manages to present us with a character that is as desperate as she is deadly and while her role is relatively small in the films overall runtime, she does a great job of giving us a character to rally against.

As, I said I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Clayton on this re-watch (and its long overdue release on Blu-ray in the UK). The movie is well paced, intelligently written and one of those dramas (I want to say thrillers, but really it’s not) that I could return to time and time again because at its core it has a character that I want to see succeed. Everything from his talk with his kid about how he knows his son isn’t one of those people that walk around all day wondering why it keeps raining shit on him. Through the scenes of Michael Clayton pulling all the little details together, you just know there's more riding on this than simply learning the truth.

Spoiler All of this comes to a head with that moment when you realize Clayton's behind the door for the final face off with Karen Crowder (with that Clooney grin we all know and love of course). Everything that has been laid out, set up, investigated and fought for comes to the perfect conclusion, and to make my love of the movie even more secure we’re left with one of the coolest end credits sequence of all time. Michael Clayton simply sitting in a cab with everything resolved and all with a sense of calm and relief. Perfect.

 Michael Clayton

Video


Despite its colour scheme opting for cold blues and greys in the exteriors shots and warm yellow and orange glows within the interiors, the colours here are pretty damn natural, especially for the majority of the skin tones. This gives the movie a great realistic look and works very well for selling the realism of the movie.

Black levels are impressively deep with shadows used well to sell the mood of the story, the filmic grain adds another dimension of realism and while the detail levels can sometimes feel a little soft in places, I have to say, I was pretty impressed with the transfer here.

Audio


Being a drama about the small details, the majority of DTS-HD Master Audio track is dedicated to a fine presentation of dialogue. Bass is used nicely to add weight to the conversations and voices sound strong in the front speakers.

 Michael Clayton
Because the focus is so heavy on the dialogue this leaves the rear speakers to play with the slight and subtle score, adding a heartbeat to the pacing or making moments feel emotional without taking over. The track is a good one, even great in regards to achieving its intentions; it just does it all without forcing it down our throats.

Extras


The director Tony Gilroy and editor John Gilroy give us a personal and thoughtful insight to the movie with their commentary. Beginning straight off the cuff with a detailed account of the struggles to get it made, Tony Gilroy leads the majority of the track and balances his input between filmmaking techniques and personal feelings on many of the themes and elements.

There’s also optional commentary from the pair on the three deleted scenes (05:34 SD) and wrapping up the features, there’s the theatrical trailer (02:06 SD)

 Michael Clayton

Overall


Due to UK not getting the Blu-ray until now and me never getting around to picking up the region free US edition, this long overdue visit to Michael Clayton was a delight. The Blu-ray isn’t remarkable, but it is impressive and does a fine job at presenting a great movie well in HD and while the features aren’t plentiful, they are probably enough considering the low key release.

The movie itself is more than a reason to pick this one up, with Clooney proving once again just how good a leading man he is and showcasing that not all Hollywood A-lister’s have to do movies that have explosions and car chases in order to be exciting. Highly recommended.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.


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