To love Clooney, or to not love Clooney, that is the question.
Surrounding the imaginary water cooler of my inner world – I don’t hear dead people yet – the chatter about “Michael Clayton” is all about George Clooney.
Some seem to dismiss his star persona because it’s “always the same.” Like Warren Beatty or Harrison Ford, some think they know exactly what they are going to get when they see a Clooney movie: same likeable guy, different lines, and same reliable performance.
The dismissive argument against him is the age-old: “No matter who he’s playing, he’s always George Clooney.”
That, to me, is what’s brilliant about the casting of him in the lead of “Michael Clayton.” For three-quarters of this legal thriller, we have no idea who this “fixer” is. Good? Bad? Greedy? Broken? Struggling dad? Good driver? An agent of corporate evil? A man doing dangerous penance? Ultimately, he reveals himself to be a little of everything, and that’s a huge feat.
In “Michael Clayton,” Clooney divorces himself of the calm-and-collected façade and shows us a man on the brink of moral collapse.
It reminded me of some of the best performances of Harrison Ford in movies like “Blade Runner” and “Frantic,” and some equally great work by Beatty in “Parallax View” and “Bulworth.”
What say you? Is “Michael Clayton” all smoke and mirrors, or does it deliver the goods?
PHOTO: George Clooney appears in a scene from the motion picture "Michael Clayton." (Gannett News Service, Myles Aronowitz/Warner Bros. Pictures)