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A shopworn trope with no new angles
on July 13, 2014
It's not bad, but the basic plot is becoming worn out: Greed motivates guy to push hard and win. Hubris takes him down.
Compared to earlier Scorcese films that have a similar core story, like Goodfellas, where saw a criminal enterprise with plenty of negative consequences and the ragged edges of excess in full view, this movie felt like the same old thing, dressed up in the style of a different decade.
And unlike Goodfellas, Wolf was a gaudy glorification of greed with very little downside. It might have been nice to see more from his victims, swindled out of their live savings, as his fortunes swelled. Not because it's wrong to glorify greed, but because the story felt one-sided, monotonous, and self-absorbed. Even when he falls, it doesn't really look like it registers for him. Perhaps that's the point of his story, but even if it is, it was only moderately entertaining to watch. Let's face it, from fairy tales to science fiction, we like seeing the Big Bad vanquished.
At the end, I felt like this had all been done before, and much better, in films like Goodfellas, Scarface, and American Hustle.