After a summer of dumb movies a sudden raft of clever ones, including this romance-free corporate-legal thriller from the pen of Tony Gilroy who scripted all three Jason Bourne films.
It may not be quite sure whether it intends to be an exposé of contemporary American business ethics or an intriguing character study, but it does have one quite supreme moment of cleverness at the end where Clooney is locked in a mesmerising dialogue with Tilda Swinton, which in a way subsumes the plot's most likely alternate ending.
Joseph Conrad specialised in protagonists such as this: men that have long occupied an unusual existential niche which is suddenly transformed into a particularly tight spot. Clooney carries off the role well, with the slight caveat that however much of a stagnated pool of disappointed ambition Clayton's life has become, he still has that unruined gorgeous-George look about him. Swinton and Pollack are also excellent, the latter in his now familiar role as sinister corporate kingpin.