Knee-jerk review: "Michael Clayton"

1. This is a movie that makes you work. It takes about 30 minutes to piece everything together and figure out who's doing what to who and why. While it's nice that the filmmakers so clearly trust the audience to be intelligent, a little bit of narrative hand-holding would have helped.
2. We're also not convinced the confusing flashforward prologue was 100% necessary.
3. A plausibly complex look at big-money machinations of corporate lawyers, their multi-millionaire clients, and the class-action lawsuits that brings them together in an ugly symbiosis of profits and self-delusions.
4. An outstanding cast that clearly relishes the A-level dialogue supplied here by writer-director Tom Gilroy.
5. George Clooney may not be a movie star who can open films just be the virtue of his being in them (this one's struggling a bit at the box office), but the guy knows how to pick projects. If he's got anything to do with a film, chances are it will be a good one. Even better, chances are it will be an interesting one. Clooney's more than willing to use his power to make unconventional films. Looking back on his career, the only real dud is 2003's Intolerable Cruelty.
6. The murder that happens here is unusually chilling in that it happens so simply and matter-of-factly. It doesn't take much at all to end someone's life.
7. There's something strangely attractive about Tilda Swinton. Or is it just us?
8. Love the satisfying ending, even if it disappointingly relies on one of the more creaky of thriller cliches.
9. Very very good, but not quite as great as it could have been.

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