ImageDrugs, sex and money; these are the three things that consume the life of stockbroker Jordan Belfort. Based on Belfort’s memoir of the same name, The Wolf of Wall Street chronicles this man’s addiction to the lavish, and sometimes disastrous, lifestyle that becoming a stockbroker on Wall Street provides. Director Martin Scorsese has picked a story that shares a number of similarities to his 1990 masterpiece Goodfellas, but instead of giving us a glimpse into the mafia, he’s engulfing us in the shark tank that is the US stock market. Scorsese and his longtime collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio dazzle us in every scene, creating a picture that truly pops.

At the film’s onset, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a naïve young man, who hopes to make it on Wall Street as a stock broker. He gets a job as an intern and his boss Mark Hanna (played hilariously by Matthew McConaughey) tells him that the only way to make it on Wall Street is with sex and constant drug use. When the stock market falls to disappointingly low numbers, Belfort loses his job. He eventually gets hired by a much smaller company who specializes in selling penny stocks. Belfort is able to sell these worthless stocks at ridiculously high prices and he soon starts his own company with the help of Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill). They soon begin making more money than they know what to do with and all seems well until they arouse the attention of an FBI investigation, led by Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler).

With a nearly three hour runtime, the film should feel long, but it never does. There is not a single moment that feels slow or too drawn out. Credit this to Scorsese and screenwriter Terence Winter, who keep the pace up and leave the viewer unable to predict what is going to happen next. Like its lead character, the film is on a constant high. The original cut of the film was reportedly four hours and, while that may have been a bit too long, audiences will be so engrossed with what is appearing onscreen before them that they won’t want this cut of the film to end.

Viewers should be made aware of the graphic sexual content that is present in the film. It’s there for a reason, showcasing the party lifestyle that Belfort and his coworkers lived for, but it’s shocking nonetheless. The sexual content in this year’s Spring Breakers feels like a watered down TV version, compared to what is on display here. Belfort pops Quaaludes, has sex with prostitutes and then snorts cocaine off of the women that he just had sex with. We get to see him dissolve from a once hopeful young businessman into a deplorable scoundrel and this wouldn’t have been possible without DiCaprio’s energetic performance.

In his fifth collaboration with Martin Scorsese, DiCaprio gives one of the best performances of his career. Belfort is a firecracker of energy and emotion and you won’t be able to take your eyes off of him. DiCaprio knows how despicable his character becomes in certain parts of the movie, but he never overdoes it. Even when Belfort does things that go beyond normal human decency, we still want to watch him to see what he does next. DiCaprio is riotously funny in the role, as is Jonah Hill who gives the film’s other standout performances. A scene in which Belfort and Azoff take too many Quaaludes is a standout moment in the film and showcases each of these actors at their unrestrained best. This has been a competitive year for acting, but hopefully Oscar nominations are in both of their prospective futures.

Some viewers may scoff at The Wolf of Wall Street, but they are missing the point. This is a film where anything can happen at any moment and it pretty much does. Equal parts satire and black comedy, the film will have audiences laughing and marveling at everything they are witnessing on screen. Three hours has never gone by so quickly.

The Wolf of Wall Street receives 4/4

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