As a 'fixer' for a corporate law firm, it's Michael Clayton's (George Clooney) job to stretch the truth until it fits his company's requirements, so when their top litigator Arthur (Tom Wilkinson) goes off the wall, Clayton's called in to clean up. But with the whiff of corruption in the air, might he do the right thing this time? Debut director Tony Gilroy scripted the frenetic Bourne trilogy but takes it down many notches here to make a thriller for grown-ups, which oozes class yet in itself feels coldly corporate.
When Arthur strips during a meeting with U-North, a corporation accused of selling lethal pesticides (lethal to humans, that is), Clayton is called in for a spot of damage limitation. But there's method in Arthur's madness and perhaps some truth in the accusations against U-North. So, having sold his soul to the corporate devil for so long, Clayton seeks the truth as much to redeem his own life (or what's left of it after the gambling, divorce and family upsets) as to save those of others.
"WHAT LIFTS THIS FILM ARE THE STAR TURNS"
Corporate evil plots are nothing to write home about, but what lifts Michael Clayton are the star turns from Clooney, Wilkinson and finally Tilda Swinton's hard-ass litigator for U-North. Similarly, those in charge of cinematography, editing and music all do their job with large doses of polish. It's all very smooth, but the problem is it's also a bit anodyne and unlikely to hold up in comparisons to Clooney's other 'serious' films, whose stories have more to offer underneath the polish.
Michael Clayton is out in the UK on 28th September 2007.