Monday, November 19, 2007
Grown Up Thriller
George Clooney seems to be one of those rare actors that seem to have a real life divining rod, rather than an agent, when it comes to picking projects. He’s done it again, teaming with writer/director Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton, an old school thinking man’s thriller that is actually made for grown-ups, a movie about a low level fixer caught up in the heady world of evil corporations and corpulent lawyers that doesn’t shy away from compelling character development and purposefully avoids the overt telegraphing and obviously cued twists and turns that are part and parcel of most contempo thrillers. The movie’s one iota of predictability is that it sets itself up as a fable of redemption, but writer/director Gilroy’s stubborn refusal to follow a predictable generic path, compounded by his extremely measured (but effective) pacing even calls that into doubt.Gilroy’s prior credits include two less-than-dialogue heavy Bourne films and the pulpy knee-slapper Armageddon, and one can feel him stretching his writing skills here—much of the talk is piquant, lively and engaging, despite the dollops of lawyer speak. Clooney, once again, downplaying his matinee looks, holds down the center, and the always smashing Tom Wilkinson tears it up as a man-over-the edge, while Gilroy scripts and films it with unusual aplomb, making this something wholly unexpected, namely a well-made film crafted for an audience of adults.