The Counselor

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Rosie Perez

Rating: R (graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language)

A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

 

The Counselor

By Cole Schneider

The most attractive selling point The Counselor offers is the names attached to it. A cast of capable actors (Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and Brad Pitt) teamed with director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator) and writer Cormac McCarthy (author of No Country For Old Men) certainly seems like a recipe for success, yet this is certainly not a success. A mess of a movie, there is plenty of blame to go around including Cameron Diaz in one of the worst roles in recent film history and Scott, who seems to accept the script’s visual limitations far too readily.

However, all of the core problems of the film stem from McCarthy’s first script. While he authored the source material for No Country, the Coen brothers penned the Oscar-winning screenplay. Here McCarthy proves that he is not as adept doing so himself. With a stunted story avoiding any possible intrigue and limiting any possible acting or directing flair, he ensured that the philosophical dialogue alone would be central to the film and the philosophy of the script never worked. The Counselor has half hazard, incongruous, and by all measures weak philosophical banter between any two of several characters we don’t care about. Where No Country was simple, subtle, restrained, The Counselor is relentless in its attempt to read us poor arguments. “Smart, sexy, and fun,” as some have called it, is wildly off the mark in all three areas. Dumb, sexist, and boring incidentally is far closer to the truth.

Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars

 

The Counselor

By Matt Greene

In “The Counselor”, there’s a scene where Diaz goes to a confessional. As she intentionally makes the priest uncomfortable, he eventually refuses to put up with her games and leaves, while Diaz urges him to stay. Now imagine that Diaz is representing the film and the priest is representing the audience, and you have a pretty good idea of what seeing “The Counselor” is like: you want to leave, and it keeps begging you to stay. Despite a bevy of talent in director Scott, screenwriter Cormac McCarthy, and a skilled cast, this is a confusing, self-important, supremely boring and hilariously ill-executed bummer.

It follows a group of bad people doing bad things. They live extravagantly and decadently, but it’s never really explained how they got to this point….in fact, nothing in the plot is ever made clear. Instead, Scott and McCarthy spend all their time making sure we understand the childish philosophies of the characters through awkward, clunky dialogue. For a story centered on people trying to stay safe, there’s no real sense of urgency. Instead, it lingers on these poorly written characters delivering hackneyed ideological dialogue. It’s fine to have a conversation driven film, but the dialogue, characters, and/or mood must be more interesting or engaging .

The few high points here are the cool weaponry, gorgeous landscapes and action scenes, and a doing-his-darndest performance by Fassbender. Sadly, these get lost in the lifeless, bloated rubble, leaving moviegoers unwantedly asking themselves, “What exactly is going on here?”

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars.

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