George Clooney plays the titular “fixer” who becomes involved in a dangerous situation when an associate, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), takes on a major conglomerate. Clayton lives in the gray area — once an assistant district attorney, he now oversees operations at Kenner, Bach, and Ledeen. Edens (Wilkinson) goes rogue, taking on the company he’s represented for years. The act sets off a chain of events testing Clayton’s resolve and ethics and leaving him no other choice but to define himself through his actions.
The story begins with Clayton meeting with a hit-and-run driver (Denis O’Hare) who becomes increasingly flustered with Clayton’s straightforward approach. “There’s no play here. There’s no angle,” Clayton says, “I’m not a miracle worker, I’m a janitor.” Clayton’s expertise in loopholes and law circumvention helps others, but it hasn’t made him partner or provided him a cushion to retire on. In debt because of his gambling addiction and a failed restaurant venture, Clayton finds himself backed into a corner. The stakes are raised when U-North general counsel Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) goes all-in to protect her company and hires a group of men who know how to silence people.
For Clayton, the situations in his life deal him a hand that come down like a crumbling full house. Corporate greed, coverups, and assassination are all topics here. There’s a steady and relentless seriousness pervading the film, and it doesn’t let up until the very last scene as Clayton enters a cab. His weary face — is he unraveling or still trying to keep it together — perhaps he’s just realized he’s escaped with his life intact only to begin walling himself off from a barrage full of regret. It’s a mature film that puts Clayton front and center — a man, no more and no less, who gets it right in the end, but at what cost?
Michael Clayton (2007)
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Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Written by: Tony Gilroy
Starring: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson
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