Steven Sheehan’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wolfellas. Scorsese and Terence Winter's throwback to the grubby criminal underworld, complete with Ralph Lauren suit and tie. Rock n' Roll on Wall Street by the people who could care less about anything other than their next deal, the next batch of commission. Whilst the bloated Roman-like excesses depicted here are no longer accepted at the office (and let's be straight here, only stringent changes to the modern working environment prevents that from being the case) there will always be a Jordan Belfort.
These are the type of people that have been at the forefront of our current financial crisis, let off the lead by politicians with invested interests. The type of people who would blow the equivalent of your whole annual salary on a weeks worth of coke and hookers. The guys who you really shouldn't like at all.
Scorsese has created a cinematic reality-TV car crash depiction of Belfort and the people closest to him. A giant iron gate is opened into a hedonistic heaven (or hell) that Caligula would have been proud to host. Creating a celebrity mag junk yard within the confines of world where anything goes. An X-rated Hello! magazine that you pick up and all the sensible traits of your brain desert you as you continue to read, increasingly fascinated.
Like nearly all Scorsese films, plot is discarded concentrating instead on the larger than life personalities of the characters. No justification is made for their actions or judgement made for their decisions. Belfort's book is apparently openly honest about the way he led his life at the time which Scorsese brings to life on screen. There is little interest in explaining the method behind the various schemes that made Belfort so rich because as DiCaprio tells us directly, we don't really want to see that do we?
Like Goodfellas or Casino this is a look at the bad guys with the charm piled on thick and fast. Laughing with them whilst they rip people off. Letting them live out the grand lifestyle that many people would at least like to have a stab at. DiCaprio and Jonah Hill guffaw, snort and shag their way through a mountain of illicitness that would put the Motley Crew to shame.
Despite a number of continuity errors (a result of the rush job to trim this from four to three hours in time for the release deadline) the combination of editing, voice-over and outlandish behaviour is hugely entertaining. A film this long shouldn't breeze by as quickly as it does which is testament to the energy of everyone involved.
There are snapshots within the story that remind us just how atrociously low these guys can be, demeaning employees or physically harming their loved ones. Their surreal other-world was outside that of the vast majority of others, which is why using black comedy to laugh instead of gasp in horror works so well. It's a laughing board for the culture we live and breathe everyday, the upper echelons of capitalism - our consumerist nature don't forget - that offers no apology.