Scorsese and DiCaprio’s great fifth collaboration gets a 4K release light on extras.

“I finally got the message.”

At first, I wasn’t a fan of The Wolf of Wall Street. I found it exhausting and, shamefully, I remember using the “Scorsese’s just repeating Goodfellas” reasoning that so many of the film’s detractors deployed back in 2013. Now, the movie seems like a prophecy, both timely and timeless in its presentation of the conman and the people who don’t realize they’re the patsy.

For all the talk of wolves, lions, and apex predators, the animal that best compares to Jordan Belfort is a rat. He infiltrates the lives of unsuspecting people and feeds off them until it’s time to jump ship and look for the next opportunity. Belfort traded stocks in the 1980s and 90s, but if he were coming of age today, you just know he’d be hawking cryptocurrency and NFTs. Actually, wait a second. I just searched “jordan belfort nft” and you only need one chance to guess what the top result is. Good grief.

Anyway, The Wolf of Wall Street is significantly better than I initially gave it credit. Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Belfort is one of his best. Belfort’s an energetic character and DiCaprio plays him as a man whose mind never sleeps and whose body only sleeps when absolutely necessary. To add another animal in the mix, Belfort is a shark who might actually die if he stops swimming for too long. It’s a fire-breathing performance by DiCaprio that would be a highlight for most any other actor. But DiCaprio’s work is just another in the murderer’s row Scorsese assembled: Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Cristin Milioti, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, P.J. Byrne, Matthew McConaughey, and everyone else down the line matches DiCaprio beat for beat.

Then there’s the skeleton key to the movie: Kyle Chandler.

Chandler, playing Agent Patrick Denham, is the star of the movie’s centerpiece, a lengthy scene on Belfort’s yacht. Belfort and Denham volley pleasantries and passive aggressive barbs while setting up a confrontation that’s been a long time coming. When the conversation finally turns hostile, it’s a wonder to behold. Denham goads Belfort into losing his cool, all while keeping a smile on his face; it’s one of Chandler’s signature moves, and Friday Night Lights fans will recognize the smile. Chandler keeps the grin on his face while everything else about him conveys simmering rage about to boil over.

The reason I highlight Agent Denham is that he represents the threadbare line between people like Belfort and the people on the receiving end of his phone calls. Not because Denham is a protector—in an alternate timeline Denham could easily be in Belfort’s position. During their talk, Denham mentions riding the subway on a hot day in a cheap suit and wondering if he made the right career choice. Sure, Denham could be bluffing. But Scorsese shows us that ride home at the end of the movie after Denham has arrested Belfort: Denham looks around at the people on the train and the look on his face isn’t one of satisfaction. To me, the look on Denham’s face says “I’m not even making a difference.” It’s a look of futility that lands like a punch to the stomach. It’s deflating and the futility of it all is reinforced by the final scene where Belfort, released from minimum security prison, stands before a group of adoring suckers. Scorsese and screenwriter Terence Winter highlight the thin line between the predators and prey throughout the movie, but those final two scenes put a final exclamation point on their three hour screed.

Though not much of an upgrade on the film’s Blu-ray release, The Wolf of Wall Street nevertheless makes its 4K debut from Paramount. The special features amount to three segments (“The Wolf Pack,” “Running WIld,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street Round Table”) of watching a group of A-listers pat each other on the back. There are occasional insights in each segment, but nothing that elevates the release to must own status. That allows the movie itself to be the star, for better or worse.

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