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Wolf of Wall Street (4K Ultra HD), The

Paramount // R // December 14, 2021
List Price: $25.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by William Harrison | posted January 6, 2022 | E-mail the Author

THE FILM:

I love Martin Scorsese and I love this bombastic, bacchanal, autobiographical film about Wall Street trader Jordan Belfort, who served two years in federal prison and was ordered to pay $110 million in restitution for defrauding hundreds of everyday Americans. The Wolf of Wall Street is told from Belfort's perspective, and our Quaalude-loving hero is played with great success by Leonardo DiCaprio. My buddies and I have watched the first half hour of this film dozens of times before hitting the bars. If you know the film, you know Jordan's introduction to Wall Street at the hands of coke-fueled trader Mark Hanna, represented by a hilarious Matthew McConaughey here, is cinema gold. And then there is gorgeous Margot Robbie as Jordan's wife Naomi, the Duchess of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and a side-splitting Jonah Hill as Jordan's idiot friend and partner Donnie Azoff. If there is another 180-minute film that runs as hot and crazy as The Wolf of Wall Street, please let me know. If you can get past the fact that these are terrible people, Scorsese's ode to excess is tremendous entertainment.

Jordan passes his Series 7 securities exam in 1987 and goes to work for Hanna at L.F. Rothschild, where he is quickly schooled in his only objective in brokerage: make as much money for the firm and himself as possible, clients be damned. Jordan is canned on Black Monday, when the stock market tanks, and goes to a boiler-room brokerage on Long Island that works penny stocks. Instead of pennies on the dollar, Jordan makes a 50 percent commission, and his Wall Street swagger earns him instant success hawking crap stocks to simple folks. Jordan and neighbor Donnie become friends and later found Stratton Oakmont, where they recruit a band of misfit brokers keen on hard sells and stock inflation. After being featured in Forbes, Jordan finds long lines of young, hungry traders knocking down his door. Soon, his firm is running like a multi-million-dollar frat house, complete with thousand-dollar lunches, office hookers and lots of cocaine. After illegally securing the initial public offering of designer Steve Madden, Jordan finds himself on the radar of the FBI, and Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) is not appreciative of his flamboyant nose-thumbing.

I cannot imagine the lifestyle Belfort was living during these events. The film is based on his memoir, and Belfort, now a convicted felon, cameos. The Wolf of Wall Street has been criticized by some for glorifying the very, very bad behavior of its subjects, but I think it works well as a cautionary satire. Even Belfort contends the film simplifies what was going on at his firm, and that, contrary to how it seems, he and his brokers were not simply ripping people off every day. Belfort also mentions that his drug use during the time was somehow worse than as depicted in the film. In a sequence that is equal parts hilarious and cringe-inducing, Jordan takes a ton of expired Quaalude sedatives before learning his phone is tapped by the FBI. He then drives his Lamborghini to a pay phone at the country club, where he goes "straight to the drool phase" and can only roll around on the floor before crawling to the car and driving home. The movie shows the drive home from Belfort's perspective, and then reveals what actually happened. This night, along with his pending federal cases, causes Jordan to get sober, though things with Naomi have soured beyond repair.

As I mentioned, these are certainly not role models. But Wolf has a bit of heart and conscience, too; Jordan's first wife (Cristin Milioti, playing Denise Lombardo but renamed "Teresa" here) is an innocent victim to his success and sympathetic figure. And Jordan actually cares a hell of a lot about his people. His rousing quasi-apology and not-quite exit from Stratton, in which he reminds the staff that they were poor and hungry before they came to him, is sneakily affecting. Wolf is also downright hilarious thanks to Terence Winter's snappy script, which apparently includes more uses of the word "Fuck" than any other film. The cast is pitch-perfect, particularly DiCaprio, Robbie and Hill, and supporting players Chandler, Rob Reiner, playing Jordan's long-suffering father Max, and Jon Bernthal as Jordan's criminally minded friend Brad, make quite the impression, too. The Wolf of Wall Street may not be Scorsese's best film, but I get a kick out of the director spearheading such salacious material. This is damn fine entertainment, folks!

THE 4K ULTRA HD:

PICTURE:

This 2.39:1/2160p/HEVC/H.265 image, with Dolby Vision and HDR 10 and from a native 4K source, is a new transfer that was supervised by Scorsese. This is not exactly a visually stunning film, though Scorsese makes 1980s boardrooms and kitchens look pretty swell, but the 4K transfer is a moderate improvement over the previous Blu-ray image. This is a very bright film, with strong highlights, and the 4K image handles this better overall. The HDR pass livens up the colors, increases detail in brighter scenes, and improves shadow detail somewhat. That said, the one, not unnoticeable, issue I have with this image is the black crush. There are a couple of shots when dark suits and even Jordan's hair become a black smear, which is not the case on the previous Blu-ray. Otherwise, fine-object detail and texture are improved, and the period-appropriate costumes and elaborate mansion, yacht and Wall Street sets are intimately detailed. The fine layer of grain is appropriately resolved, and the film looks excellent in motion. There are no issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement.

SOUND:

The previous 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix makes another appearance here, and it is appropriately lively. There is plenty of surround action thanks to the boiler-room chatter and frequent crowd noise. The score and popular-music selections are given appropriate weight and balance, and dialogue is crisp and without distortion. Although not an action film, Wolf sees the surrounds frequently in use, and the subwoofer supports the more raucous scenes. English, English SDH and French subtitles are included.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This single-disc release arrives in a black 4K case that is wrapped in a glossy slipcover. A digital copy code is included. The extras are all recycled (some from a previous Best Buy exclusive disc) and include The Wolf Pack (17:01/HD), with comments from Scorsese and the cast about the story; Running Wild (11:21/HD), with more production insight; and The Wolf of Wall Street Roundtable (10:58/HD), with remarks from DiCaprio, Scorsese, and others.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This is not a subtle film, but Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is a hilarious ode to excess and an exceptionally entertaining autobiographical film about Wall Street trader Jordan Belfort and his exploits. The new 4K edition offers a moderately improved image, recycled sound and a few extras. On the merits of the film, the disc is Highly Recommended.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
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