The Wolf of Wall Street

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The Wolf of Wall Street
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IMDb: 8.2
The film begins with a lion walking through a brokerage firm called Stratton Oakmont, Inc. in what appears to be an ad for the firm. This short sequence sets the tone for the rest of the movie, especially since it jumps to the actual office and brokers we will be seeing throughout. Born in a middle-class family in Queens, by the time he was 26 Jordan was making 49 million dollars and already felt like that wasn't enough. At the height of his career he had a successful, if not dubious firm, lived in a mansion, was married to Naomi with whom he had two kids, he also had a private jet, six cars, three horses, two vacation homes, and a yacht. All of this was fueled with excessive drug use, alcoholism, lovemaking addiction, and pretty much everything that could give him an adrenaline rush. But of all the drugs on the planet, there was one that was his absolute favorite - money. Jumping back to the time when he was 22 and just starting out on Wall Street, we see him arriving at the firm where he started his broker career. While treated like pond scum by his immediate superior, he's infatuated by one of the higher-ups Mark Hanna who makes much more money than the other guy and is ready to give Jordan a few tips on Wall Street "highlife". The stock market opens and Jordan loses his mind when he sees how the trading floor looks like, hooking him in seconds by the sheer force of adrenaline caused by money. Later, Hanna takes Jordan to lunch and tells him what he should be focused on to get his career moving. Aside from the drugs and "lovemaking" that should help him focus better on the number's game, he tells him that making money as a broker isn't about getting his clients rich but himself. In the vulgar poetry of Wall Street money-making, a broker's job is to sell his clients' dreams, while stuffing actual cash in his own pockets. Now, young Jordan still has a little bit of a moral issue with that concept, but, as we will see, he grows out of that state of mind very fast. For the next 6 months, Jordan learns the ins and outs of the business as he gets ready to get the license that would allow him to buy and sell stocks on the market. Unfortunately, on his first day as a licensed broker, the stock market crashes in what is now known as Black Monday, leaving him and many others jobless. It may not look great for him as he sits down on the dining table with his first wife, looking for another job and talking money, until he finds the only job listing in the paper calling for stockbrokers. Considering he knows the state of the market at that particular moment in time, he's a little bit reluctant as he goes in for his interview at the small firm working from a strip mall. However, what he learns there about so-called penny stocks will change his life forever, in more ways than one. The man interviewing him, who looks like an absolute flake compared to his previous colleagues, explains that they only deal with penny stocks. Those are stocks, they call pink sheets, that belong to companies that don't have enough capital and sell for, as the name might suggest pennies. Jordan is a bit confused about how the whole thing works until the man tells him that he would make a 50% commission on them. As far as the legality of selling such stocks goes it seems to be in some kind of grey area that would work for Jordan's benefit. Until it doesn't. Being a natural-born salesman, Jordan quickly realizes that he can make much more money from the penny stocks by outward lying to his clients to get more money out of them and impressing his coworkers in the process. Jordan starts making more money in no time which catches the eye of one of his neighbors Donnie Azoff. When Donnie learns about the amount that Jordan makes, he's prepared to quit his job on the spot if Jordan hires him. Jordan takes up on his offer and their long professional relationship begins in the diner where they first meet. Donnie is also the first person to really introduce Jordan to drugs. Not long after, the two of them decide to go out on their own and start their own firm, so Jordan recruits some of the people he knows that can sell. Granted, these men were mostly low-tier drug dealers, but Jordan was convinced he can make brokers out of them yet. From the four men that can be seen sitting on his table, the only one with real salesman chops is Brad, but he isn't too interested in working as a broker, since he already has a semi lucrative business selling Quaaludes. As he's trying to convince these dudes to work for him he makes them take the ultimate salesman test, by giving them a pen and asking them to sell it to him. Brad takes the pen and immediately understands that what needs to be done is to create supply and demand, opening the floor for Jordan to teach the others a lesson they will need a bit of time to learn, but eventually will. Apart from Donnie, the men he initially hires in his firm are Robbie, Alden, Chester, and Rugrat who actually went to law school. They begin to make money, but Jordan soon realizes that they can make even more if he coaches his brokers into sounding smart enough to be able to sell stocks to people with actual capital. He reinvents the company into Stratton Oakmont and their journey to riches begins. The coaching process takes his men from being shmucks to proper salesmen and in no time he's able to take the company to the next level. Furthermore, they grow in size very fast, getting them on the radar of Forbes Magazine, but also the FBI. Forbes calls him The Wolf of Wall Street, seeing right through his fake "Robin Hood" game where he takes low-income people and turns them into cut-throat brokers, only lining their own pockets and, most importantly, his own. What the magazine couldn't predict is that they would make him a superstar and help his company double in size with up-an-coming stockbrokers fighting to get in on his game. His firm becomes, as he calls it, a madhouse, filled with equal parts drugs, testosterone, and body fluids. Jordan even gets his father to work for him as a kind of enforcer who'll keep them from losing their heads completely in debauchery and expenses. The movie jumps to one of the Statton Oakmont parties where everything in Jordan's life shifts one more time. This party is presented as the all-in-one game-changer for both his professional and private life. First and foremost, we see him absolutely drowning in his preferred drug Quaaludes or ludes for short. He and his buddies have figured out an entire system to use it, where they can reap all of its benefits when brainstorming money-making ideas. In fact, the second important thing to happen at the party is when Donnie has one of those ideas during a drug-induced creative flow they have going on. He comes up with the name Steve Madden, an old high-school chum of his, that has become an important shoe designer and who'll come up in the movie again soon. The third important thing to happen during the party is the moment Jordan meets his second wife, Naomi, and falls for her instantly. They become lovers even before he divorces his first wife and carries on with their affair until she finds out. Once he hands over the papers for his divorce though, he instantly moves in with Naomi into a huge apartment. At this point in his life, he already starts making some shady things, like having people like Brad hold stock in his name. He called those people ratholes. Jordan would drive the price for the stock up, Brad would sell it and kick most of the profits back to Jordan, all of it in cash. To keep under the radar of the SEC or the Securities and Exchange Commission, he hires an attorney, Manny Riskin, calling him the voice of doom. Meanwhile, he treats the SEC lawyers terribly and bugs the office where he puts them to work to know about anything they might find suspicious. While the SEC comb through his papers, he takes the shares of a company making its first Initial Public Offering and makes an illegal move that brings his firm an incredible amount of money. The move is that when the stock is offered to the general population, Jordan's company makes the initial sales price and sells those stocks back to their friends. Making that amount of money pushes Jordan to live even more extremely, so after he asks Naomi to marry him, he kicks off with the kind of life that was mentioned at the beginning of the movie. Jordan has an insane bachelor party in Las Vegas that costs him around 2 million dollars, then has his wedding with Naomi in the Bahamas together with all of his friends and associates. At the wedding, he meets Naomi's aunt Emma that will play a very important role in his life a few years down the road. As a wedding gift, he buys Naomi the already mentioned yacht where they spend their honeymoon. After, they return to a home which is one of the most expensive real estates in the world, filled with all kinds of personnel, from maids to landscapers and two guards that work in shifts. A year and a half later, his marriage is already in a bit of trouble because of his excessive drug abuse and ever-progressing lovemaking needs. Meanwhile, his professional life was booming. The firm was finally launching the Steve Madden IPO, to whose company Donnie and Jordan already secretly owned 85%. That high percentage was all in the names of Jordan's and Donnie's ratholes and, legally speaking, it was unacceptable. But the both of them were ready to play the game and get filthy rich from it by driving the brokers they coached to sell the stocks like crazy. They were doing such a great job in fact, that the FBI's interest in the company was growing as fast as the prices of the Steve Madden shares. Agent Denham was already charting their entire journey and growth as a firm, noticing the levels in which they were skyrocketing and how fast Jordan was getting richer. The money began coming in fast and so did the calls from the FBI in their investigation to find all of Jordan's possible associates. When Jordan gets a call from the videographer that shot his wedding informing him that the FBI has sent them a subpoena for all the video material, Jordan panics a little. He talks to one of his counselors, a Private Investigator who used to be a cop and finds out everything about Denham from him. The PI says that he knows everything about him and that by making this last move he's trying to rattle him into doing something stupid. Even though the PI tells him not to touch the matter and try to communicate with the agent, Jordan invites the agent for a chat on his yacht. Jordan begins the conversation smoothly, offering Denham an entire list with the names of his associates, but then takes it in another direction trying to bribe the agent on his side. Denham plays his game for a bit, waiting to see how far Jordan would go and what he would say, but cuts him off at the end saying that he isn't interested in bribes. That sends Jordan into a rage in the beginning and then into a panic as to where and how he could hide his money from the federal authorities. Fortunately, his pal Rugrat knew a Swiss banker from his days at law school, so he was able to arrange a meeting for the two of them in Switzerland. Is it necessary to state that Jordan's drug problem was getting worse by the day? In fact, he would take the entire ride to Europe in a lude-induced haze and find himself strapped to his airplane seat when they arrive in Geneva. At the bank Rugrat, Donnie and Jordan meet with Saurel, the banker who, for the time being, will be their saving grace. He quickly familiarizes them with Swiss laws on brokerage and gives them a few hints about some workarounds and loopholes they might be willing to consider. When it comes to storing money obtained by stock fraud, they would simply need to use one of Jordan's ratholes that has an EU passport and open the account in their name, making the account untraceable. Jordan suddenly remembers Naomi's British aunt, Emma, since the UK was still in the EU back then, to use as his rathole for his money. He doesn't have a problem convincing the woman which seems to have taken a liking to him for some reason. But, since he and Donnie have an insane amount of money that needs to be taken into Switzerland in cash, aunt Emma wouldn't be rathole enough for the two of them. They get the idea to use Brad's new wife Chantelle, who is of Slovenian origin. One test trial in the game and they figure out that it would take her an obscene amount of time to transfer all of their money to the Swiss bank. So, as another solution to the problem, Brad elicits the help of Chantelle’s entire family with Slovenian passports. During the planning stage, Donnie reminds them that it's not just Jordan's money they have to consider, but his as well. He manages to get himself into an argument with Brad, who demands he makes the money drop off somewhere outside and for Donnie to come to the meeting sober. The exchange goes anything but smoothly, with Donnie messing with Brad and eventually managing to get the cops on them as well. Because of Donnie's stupidity, Brad gets arrested and ends up doing 3 months in prison for not rating him out. That night, Donnie freaks out and goes over to Jordan's house with some Lemon 714 ludes, that haven't been in production in a long time. Jordan doesn't pick up on the fact that Donnie wants to get something with them, even though he knows he's been keeping them for a special occasion. Since the drugs are really old, 15 years past their expiration date, when they don't begin working on them immediately, Jordan and Donnie keep popping the pills one after the other. Unfortunately, the only thing not working about the drug is their release system, which has slowed significantly over the years, so when the ludes hit the two men - they hit them hard. Jordan gets the high from the drug right in the middle of a conversation with his PI who tells him that all of his phones are bugged. He barely manages to get home after Naomi calls him to say that Donnie isn't doing well and is talking to Saurel on the phone. When Jordan arrives, hardly walking, he struggles to get Donnie off the phone and the moment he does, Donnie starts choking. Jordan saves him from dying on his living room floor with a little help from one of his other favorite drugs. The next day, Jordan gets arrested for driving his car in his doped-up state. Thankfully, he didn't kill himself or someone else on the road. Sometime later, since Jordan is under constant supervision by everyone, Riskin advises him to cut a deal with the SEC and step down from his position in the firm, leaving it for Donnie to run. He tells Jordan to plead guilty for a few things and pay a few fines so the SEC leaves him alone for good. While the FBI won't drop their charges about the Steve Madden case, if everything else is resolved in the manner in which Riskin proposes, they won't be able to do much about them. Jordan's dad advises him to take that deal and save his skin before it's too late. Jordan initially agrees to it, but once he's back in the office and sees all of his employees, he changes his mind. Everyone sheers for him and proves to be extremely loyal when the FBI comes knocking on their door sometime later. No one gives the FBI any information about the Steve Madden IPO and stalls the agents during the investigation, which Jordan calls harassment. Meanwhile, even though Jordan and Donnie were advised not to leave the country, they decide to take their business with them and run it from Italy. Not long after, Rugrat calls them to say that Steve Madden is dumping all of his shares. Jordan freaks out because most of the shares he owns of the company are in Steve Madden's name. so he tells Rugrat to make everyone else sell their shares too so they can drive the price down and reduce the company stocks to penny stocks. To make matters worse for him, aunt Emma dies and her account would be permanently locked if he doesn't go to Switzerland to take it over. On their way to Monaco, from where they would go to Switzerland, the yacht gets into some trouble and they almost sink. Fortunately, the Italian coast guard saves Jordan, Donnie, and their families from dying, but that doesn't stop all the other problems from coming. In the proceeding two years, Jordan gets his act together, becomes sober, and becomes a TV personality, but the FBI still manages to build a case against him and arrest him. It appears that Rugrat and Saurel were arrested on U.S. soil because the banker had some other shady stuff going on the side, but he gave up Jordan to save his own skin with the feds. Jordan gets criminal charges brought up against him for everything ranging from money laundering to obstruction of justice and gets remanded in his home after he pays his bail. In the following period of his life, he stands to lose everything material in his life, but also his wife and kids. Donnie promises to help him with the financial side of things, so when the FBI asks him to rat out Donnie and the rest of his crew, he refuses. The moment things start going downhill with Naomi and he relapses with his drug use, Jordan realizes that he needs to change his tune if he wants to hold on to something in his life. The second offer for cooperation with the FBI he takes with a heavy heart, but with some pragmatism in him left. Jordan goes back to the office while wearing a wire to get something out of Donnie, but he can't go through with it. He gives Donnie a note that he's wearing a wire and doesn’t insist on the illegal aspects of their operation in their conversation. Unfortunately, Donnie now knows that the feds are after him too, so he uses that same note to rat on Jordan and makes amends with the FBI for his own crimes. So, without wanting to do it in the first place, Jordan still has to give up everyone after he's arrested and in return, he gets a short sentence of 3 years in a small jail in Nevada. When he gets out of jail, he continues with a career coaching others how to become better salesmen, while selling them the dream of making it big in return. The movie ends with Jordan passing a pen to someone at one of his seminars, asking him to sell him that pen.
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