Stars: *** 1/2
Rating: R for profanity and violence
Run Time: 2 hours
George Clooney takes a compelling star turn as a relentlessly churning cog in a crooked corporate wheel.
Clayton (Clooney) is a “fixer” for slick law house
And off the deep end. In a blazing epiphany that sets the narrative on its ear Arthur goes completely schizoid, insisting among other things that he’s drenched in amniotic fluid while experiencing a cathartic rebirth of epic proportion.
Smooth-as-silk Clayton is dispatched to do damage control but it appears that Arthur was on to something big before his drugless psychosis; turning the tables on a giant toxic cover-up and three billion dollar class action lawsuit against K, B & L agrochemical super-client U/North.
Soon enough Clayton is going toe to toe with U/North’s steely in-house chief counsel (Tilda Swinton) and racing against the clock to pull together the unraveling threads of a massive conglomerate’s tapestry of lies.
“Clayton” is a resonant throwback with deep roots to the political thrillers of the 1970s; slick, smart and saturated in dramatic paranoia. A brainy pastiche of set-ups, pay-offs, company malfeasance and revenge in absorbing shades of grey. Stylish and spare, “Clayton” brims with conscience; establishing its persuasive claim in stark bursts of truth while holding its more enigmatic secrets close to the vest.
It doesn’t hurt to have a crack cast of A-listers working their magic. Clooney as the suave bagman who harbors a gambling addiction and loan shark debt; Wilkinson as the remorseful big gun standing on the precipice of insanity, and Swinton; cool, calm and desperately trying for collected in the face of professional suicide.
One or two moments ring false but the tension is unfailingly hot-wired and sans CGI fireworks. Good old-fashioned drama the good old-fashioned way.