Reviewer's grade: A
George Clooney, looking haggard and in need of a nap and a sandwich, stars in the title role of this suspenseful thriller from veteran screenwriter and first-time director Tony Gilroy. Michael Clayton is a "fixer" at a large New York law firm, a man who gets called out in the middle of the night to clean up after both his firm's clients and partners alike.
After partner Arthur Edens (the fantastic Tom Wilkinson) goes off his meds and flips out at a deposition hearing, Clayton is called in to calm him down and smooth things over with corporate client UNorth, represented by resident shark Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton). Things do not go as planned, and since there's a lot of money on the line, things instead get very dangerous. Clayton, who is doing his best just to tread water, gets caught in the middle.
With a solid, well-constructed script by Gilroy and a solid, well-chosen cast to flesh it out, "Michael Clayton" is easily the year's most exciting movie about corporate law. R