The Counselor  (2013)

Ridley Scott is a great director. Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz & Penelope Cruz are all on the good-to-great side in terms of acting. Cormac McCarthy is a good writer. Somehow all these good elements came together to create a movie that was less than the sum of its parts.

Cormac McCarthy started as a novelist; this movie was his first attempt at writing for the screen. There have been many examples in the past of movies that felt like they were meant to be read, not spoken aloud, and this is one of them. The story was should have been simple, a basic drug deal movie, where an innocent guy wants to make a quick buck and turns to the dark side, then everything falls apart. Things got convoluted with too many characters, too much mystery of these behind-the-scenes powers, who "they" are and what "they" want.

Fassbender is "The Counselor", with a loving and innocent fiancee (Cruz). The Counselor has a client (Bardem) who is heavily into the drug trade, along with his girlfriend (Diaz). The Counselor invests in a drug deal expecting something like a four-thousand percent profit. Of course, things go south, people are killed, goods go missing, and everything spirals out of control.

Some scenes were great, but they all felt sort of separate, like it was a bunch of ideas someone had and decided to mash them all into the same story. It was definitely a memorable movie, featuring very intense, graphic scenes. People are shot, people get decapitated with razor wire strung across a highway, people fall victim to a "bolita" which is a truly gruesome device to deliver a somewhat slow death. I also can't do a full review without mentioning the weirdest sex scene I've ever seen. I've seen a lot of strange movie sex, but this was just so odd and so non sequitur, even the characters in the movie were perplexed by it. The safest description would be to just say it involves Cameron Diaz and a car.

The trailer had me very interested, the cast & director appealed to me, but after the viewing I just sat wondering what I had spent two hours watching. It had potential, and certain scenes were definitely memorable, but overall it failed to live up to my expectations.



On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "The Counselor" gets a 5 out of 10.


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