MICHAEL CLAYTON is an extremely intelligent and mature drama/thriller that is a perfect respite from dumb "action" movies that thrive on cheap violence as opposed to genuine thrills. This movie is genuinely gripping, but its engaging thrill emerges from its strong emotional core as opposed to bullets and explosions. It isn't a movie for kids by any stretch, but mature teens and adults will have a great time watching.
The movie follows a "fixer" lawyer named Michael Clayton, who is in charge of burying controversial and possibly illegal behavior of his clients before it hinders their business prospects. When Michael's friend uncovers a conspiracy behind a multi-million dollar lawsuit, Michael is convinced that his friend is only looking for a problem where there isn't one. Soon however, Michael begins to see cracks in his previous vantage point, and the decisions he makes will make all the difference.
The movie isn't for kids at all. It is very mature and adult-oriented, and contains some adult content. The "f" word is used more than 20 times, and other milder language ("s**t", "d**n", and sexual slang) is used almost non-stop. "C**t" is used once early in the film. A man describes being in a "whorehouse" and trying not to "come" as he recieves oral sex from two prostitutes. "D**k" and "c**k" are also used as slang in this scene. The same man strips naked after having an emotional breakdown (nothing shown). A man is assassinated onscreen (poison is injected into his foot after he is knocked unconscious), and another man's car explodes (with the intent of killing him). One character is also a drug addict.
The majority of characters in the movie make very poor decisions (and are thus poor role models), but the overall message of the movie is very inspiring: how a handful of people in a corrupt world have the courage to change their actions and do the right thing. In an age of superficial movies, MICHAEL CLAYTON courageously and inspiringly offers an alternate thriller: one driven by plot and meaning, not bullets.