User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 272 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 29 out of 272

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  1. Aug 27, 2014
    With a stellar script and powerful direction from Tony Gilroy, it isn't surprising how passionate the performances were. Clooney, Wilkinson and Swinton--all in top form.
  2. Jun 8, 2014
    I typically find most George Clooney movies to be a tad boring, but this one was certainly not boring at all. Rather, it managed to have my attention from beginning to end trying to follow everything that was going on. For starters, the plot is a bit confusing and convoluted at times and that would be a bad thing if they did not resolve my questions at the end. Throughout, the tension is always present and keeps you on the edge of your seat as more and more questions get answered and the puzzle pieces start coming together. At the end of the day, it is amazing just how far some will go to keep their dirty secrets from being aired and, really, that is what this one is about. The film summary on many sites is somewhat accurate, but really fails to capture what this one is truly about. The writing here is also very sharp and the cinematography is very stylish as well. George Clooney is also great here, as well as Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton in smaller roles. Then again, the acting as a whole was very good. Finally, the monologue delivered by Wilkinson at the beginning (and later finished as the story truly begins) is also phenomenally written and delivered. It really sets the tone for the rest of the film. Overall, "Michael Clayton" is a good, tense thriller that is a bit slow and confusing at times, but is undoubtedly satisfying. Expand
  3. Dec 20, 2013
    A very atmospheric and exceptionally well written drama that doubles as a thriller, Michael Clayton will grip any intelligent moviegoer until the end. The plot delves into corporation conspiracies, murder, and deceit galore, and it's all played out brilliantly. The cast is great and the direction is precise, but I couldn't help but feel that something was missing. I previously gave this movie a 9, but as time went on I began to realize that it's actually somewhat limited. It works almost perfectly when you're watching it, but it doesn't really linger on the mind when it's over. It also could have been more kinetic. I'm not saying that I wanted full on shoot outs, but a couple of fights should have been thrown in for good measure. Complaints aside, it's still very, very good. Forgot to mention how beautifully shot the film, but you'll see that for yourself. Expand
  4. Oct 8, 2013
    Many people have notions of what a 'fixer' may actually do, some see rubber gloves and cleaning up crime scenes, others may see smooth talking, good looking and suited up individuals who confidently go about their job as a sought after individual. But George Clooney plays a different sort of fixer, his character, Michael Clayton, is realistic in his approach to every part of his job, he isn't a miracle worker, nor does he make every problem disappear because at the end of the day, he simply cleans up the mess, but the bigger the mess, the more complex the clean-up. Clayton himself has problems of his own that he cannot sweep under the rug, while he may look the part, Clooney portrays a character who isn't everything he appears, he owes serious amounts of money to loan sharks after we discover his gambling habit, struggles with financing his life and desperately tries to repair his past mistakes but still creating new ones, all while taking on a big "mess". The law firm he works for is facing a crisis after one of its partners, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) has quite the mental breakdown in the midst of a massive court case which Arthur knows the company his firm is defending are guilty of their crimes, something Michael is desperately trying to amend. It's clear to see why we have the title named after our main character, it is focusing on the life a man leads who feels he has no purpose, a man who is taken for granted and then thrown to the side, something Clooney portrays through many forces and silent stares, while we also see how he tries to balance his life as a dad and a man with a job that he can't really explain to anyone, but he shares the screen with someone else who is confident in her job but masks her demons, lawyer for the big client, a client called UNorth being sued for illegal chemical dumping Karen Crowdor (Tilda Swinton), equally as cunning and potentially dangerous as Clayton. It's films like this where we look to the talent involved to realise they are the driving force of the film, the tension and chemistry they create while also taking from a sharp and smartly written piece from director and writer Tony Gilroy, who cleverly takes a sombre approach to have this business thriller being much more than it seems, there isn't realty an inspiring touch to leave you flabbergasted, but more about style and the performances, it focuses solely on the consequences of actions as we have many guilt-ridden characters with too much power on their hands. As mentioned, the performances are the standout moments of this film, Clooney proves his stability and grit while Swinton also shoes her worth as the sort of Yin to Clooney's Yang. It's a smart and complex film that stays intriguing thanks to its strong cast and compelling story. Expand
  5. Jun 7, 2013
    Lawyer Michael Clayton cleans up tricky legal problems for his companies wealthiest clients. After years on the job he’s had enough of, he’s middle-aged, divorced and realizes that his career is going nowhere but remains dependent on the company thanks to his gambling troubles and a failed attempt at opening a bar. When one of the companies partners goes AWOL after working on a case for six years Clayton is sent to get him back on the job but soon begins to unravel an uncomfortable truth about the case.

    The movie forgoes action for the most part, instead choosing to let the truth behind the case gradually unravel through glimpses at legal documents and out of context conversations that really require the viewer to concentrate. Each of the major characters comes across as well rounded with some good performance throughout but the movie is held together by George Clooney, who remains a terrific screen presence and his characters gradual development plays a huge part in the movies overall success.

    I have heard Michael Clayton described as a thriller, and that is perhaps the wrong word to use, but it is certainly an interesting movie and well worth investing two hours of your time.
  6. May 26, 2013
    Very, very, very slow and hard to follow at first. But, Michael Clayton is a very good thriller. A unique thing about this film, isn't the plot, but the way it appeals as a thriller. With the minimal use of a score and action, it's thrills are driven by the acting. So many other thrillers depend on intense music and fighting, but this film depends solely upon it's brilliant cast. George Clooney, Tom Atkinson, and Tilda Swinton are fantastic in this film. Definitely worth a watch. I promise that after the slow first hour, it gets very good and intense. Expand
  7. Apr 1, 2013
    This movie relies on a perfect complicated-yet-understandable story and the type of acting that is completely grounded in reality. You don't see Clooney have wild ups and downs because his character wouldn't have them. Same with all other actors including the hit men. Just pros. No yelling or screaming. Scarily, this is probably how pro hitmen work. They don't act or look different. And Wilkenson plays a man in the mists of a manic episode perfrectly. His is the only character that acts in extremes, but believe me, it's very realistic. Expand
  8. Jan 21, 2013
    A complicated but good and exciting thriller. The best movie of 2007. Again Robert Ludlum blow my mind like he did by the Jason Bourne movies (Robert Ludlum is the writer of the Jason Bourne movies and this movie). I like the cast and the story. Nice movie.
  9. Jan 19, 2013
    i always wondered one thing when watching those b-movies that feature a lot of people getting sick because of evil companies with lots of money and the hero suing the company and winning because of his/her good heart: the side of the bad guys. because those movies tend to leave all the arguments of the bad guys at: they just want te make more money. here's something interesting: this movie plays from the viewpoint of the bad guys, and you know what? this one actually became a complicated character piece with lots of intrigue and businessmen in suits. and, my favourite, the good guys do not win in the end because they get lucky or because they love everybody so much. no, they do it the old fashioned way: by being smarter than the opposition. Expand
  10. Dec 21, 2012
    Even with only a couple spots of true action, this film's characters and plot are engaging enough to sell the whole package. It is a bit slow, but it proves to be worthy.
  11. Apr 13, 2012
    Very solid performances by the cast. The flaw of this though is that it's a little confusing at times and it never really peaks until the end of the film (around the last 20 minutes of the film). Its still a good movie though, I enjoyed watching it.
  12. Apr 2, 2012
    I was pretty confused right off the back. It was over acted( like that is a surprise.) Still it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't very interesting. The ending picked up when everything began to connect.
  13. Jan 6, 2012
    A seriously enthralling movie. I'm a fan of thrillers, but I usually just start up a movie on netflix and then let the movie give me a reason to watch it. By the end of this movie, I was squatting in front of the tv, my heart racing. Loved it.
  14. Dec 21, 2011
    Extremely boring....I could hardly stay awake enough to pay attention. Do not see this late at night or after more than one will soon be sound asleep.
  15. Dec 11, 2011
    I have watched various movies in my life and I believe I am one of the most successful metacritic movie reviewers up to date. However, never in my days did I see such **** up movie like "Michael Clayton". First to start off, the movie is a genre exercise; it throws in all the ingredients into one bowl for a cake. But the problem is that the cake tastes like **** I have NO clue how the story goes on and it's mainly compromised of little bits of unfinished stories. However the movie has no point of it's existence....because there is NO MORAL. What's the point of the story? Stop pollution? certainly one of the most depressing movie of the year. Expand
  16. Nov 16, 2011
    Although this movie is a little dry at times and the exact thing that the film makers are trying to say seems unclear to me, Michael Clayton is a solid movie with some good themes, relatable characters and some real good performances. Clooney is good throughout and his performance in the last scene is FANTASTIC and a must see. Recommended.
  17. Aug 26, 2011
    The movie looked so promising, but it was all lost, I don't know where and I don't know why? The movie went in different directions, and left me without answers and with many questions. It was disconnected, and I don't understand why the little guy told Michael (George Clooney) the story from the book, and what about his uncle, and the story behind their relationship? The plot is really weak, and I don't know why the critics supported this movie. But, I was blown away with Tom Wilkinson's performance, he did a great job with Arthur. He gave the character a dimension. Clooney, on the other hand, acted himself, as usual. I believe that Clooney is the most boring actor I've ever seen. Expand
  18. Jan 26, 2011
    Just an ok film. Nothing special. Not sure why it got an Academy nomination for best movie, I can understand the acting as it was great and even the direction was top notch but the story was just really mundane. Not that it was bad, just nothing original.
  19. Aug 27, 2010
    I applaud the first-time director Tony Gilroy for tackling a corporate suspense thriller with such level-headed decidedness, but the obfuscated dialogue and screenplay dulls the experience, and I didn't find the main character, Michael Clayton, affecting enough to hold a vested interest in. However, to the movie's benefit, he cast is well-played, especially Tilda Swinton as the fragile corporate hound-dog. Expand

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 36
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 36
  3. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Clooney is as good as he has ever been.
  2. As with the Bourne films, Gilroy has a knack for creating strong characters and situations that resonate with tension. It may be formula, but the guy is a solid chemist as he crafts excellent set-ups and payoffs.
  3. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Features strong performances and a solid story, drawn from the familiar well of faceless corporations grinding ordinary people through their profit-making machinery. Yet Gilroy's fidelity to his script comes at the expense of the pacing.