A 2007 legal thriller starring George Clooney
. It is the directorial debut of screenwriter Tony Gilroy, best known for the The Bourne Series
It centers on Michael Clayton
. Michael Clayton is a "fixer" — a person who solves difficult situations by tampering with the legal system — at the New York City law firm Kenner, Bach, & Ledeen. Clayton finds himself embroiled in a case involving his mentally-unstable colleague, Arthur Edens, and the agricultural conglomerate his firm is representing in a class-action lawsuit.
This Film Provides Examples Of:
- Punch Clock Villain: Basically the point of the film. Kenner, Bach, & Ledeen profits off of protecting Punch Clock Villains like the insidious U-North corporation, to the point that Arthur's guilt finally gets the better of him. Karen Crowder is put in the position of protecting U-North and resorts to assassination. The assassins themselves are respectable business-types who take jobs while teeing off at the country club. Everyone is simply doing their job. In case we miss it, the opening scenes have Michael clocking in with his ID badge on the way to work.
- Redemption Equals Death: Arthur to the fullest.
- Shout-Out: I hope Clayton's kid's parents didn't actually let him watch Neon Genesis Evangelion before getting him an Eva...
- The Spock: Michael Clayton.
- Stepford Smiler: Karen must arduously construct her aura of confidence. Scenes cut back and forth between the poised professional she seems to be on the job and the nervous wreck she is behind the scenes.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Arthur, then Michael.
- Trouble Entendre: In a very vague discussion between Karen and one of her spies, it gets so confusing for the spy that he outright asks if she wants him to kill Arthur Edens or not; the whole scene is incredibly chilling.
- Villainous Breakdown: Literally, as Karen begins to fall apart while Clayton berates her, then starts shaking like a leaf and outright collapses to the floor as her crimes are revealed and the police move in to arrest her, to the point where they actually hold off on cuffing her because they fear she might need medical attention.