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There are hints of greatness, one or two artfully constructed scenes that remind you why you look forward to new Scorsese films in the first place. But as a highly detailed portrait of true-life corruption and bad behavior in the financial sector, Wolf is pushy and hollow, too much of a bad thing.
Scorsese, that sly spiritualist, is out to make us sick on commerce and greed run rampant. He moves us beyond the allure of avarice so that we might take better stock of ourselves. What starts as a piggish paean becomes, by the end, an invigorating purge.
Seemingly taking its cue from Belfort’s shenanigans, the film is completely without modulation. It starts with all the knobs cranked up to 11 and remains that way for the next three hours. While what’s onscreen is never uninteresting, its unrelentingness is exhausting.