Ridley Scott (‘Gladiator’) tried for years to get a film of American novelist Cormac McCarthy’s bleak, brilliant literary western ‘Blood Meridian’ off the ground; instead, he got to direct this curious drug-war thriller, McCarthy’s first original film script. As consolation prizes go, it’s a wooden spoon: a great writer’s pompous idea of pulp fiction, treated with stultifying seriousness by everyone else involved.
McCarthy’s disregard for screenwriting convention is compellingly reckless. He gives us an unreadable hero, no visible antagonist and a pervading sense of evil too extreme to qualify as tension. Michael Fassbender’s nameless lead character is a sharp-suited lawyer who enters into a drug deal with louche client Reiner (Javier Bardem, sporting a conker-shell coiffure that even his ‘No Country for Old Men’ character would deem a bit iffy) to pay off the Ritz-sized rock he’s just bought his naive fiancée (a wasted Penélope Cruz). Things go awry; they always do.
McCarthy is less concerned with the mechanics of his story than the nihilistic psychology propelling these people – a commendable aim defeated by the dearth of actual characters, and the superficial chrome plating of Scott’s direction.
At least Cameron Diaz gives it some welly as the gold-toothed femme fatale who may or may not hold all the cards. She uses her nether regions as a windshield squeegee in the film’s most YouTube-ready scene and keeps a poker-straight face while delivering dialogue like ‘Truth has no temperature.’ ‘The Counsellor’ is a film smart enough to craft that line, but dim enough to think it means something.
Cast and crew
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I just wanted to say that movie critics must be looking to a thesaurus all day long. Stop trying to seem intelligent and tell us that the movie was terrible or awesome. You're welcome.
Some say the dialogues are what makes the film, but I have to strongly disagree with that sentiment. I like dialogues in films, I don't mind when characters talk a lot in a movie. Usually. With the Counselor, it was the first time I honestly hoped the characters would shut up already. Really, it's the same all the time, no matter who is talking - to that extent, actually, that if you closed your eyes and had a bad ear for voices, you'd often wonder which one of the generally bland characters was talking - or if it would be a new one, borrowed for another one-off scene, repeating what others have already said, maybe with another more or less interesting story to go with it. Actions have consequences. If someone mightier than you wants to harm you, there's nothing you can do about it. It's hopeless, and humanity is evil. That seems to be the lesson the movie wants to teach us. I get it. It's not very "deep" in a non-drug induced hallucination way, but ok, if that's what they wanted to tell us... still, what little impact that "message" could have had dies in the fires of endless repetition and the refusal of any of the characters to challenge that notion. It hardly qualifies as being challenging or even philosophical.
Good looking, philosophical crime drama. I suggest you don`t get put off by the many curiously negative reviews. Give it a try and judge for yourselves.
If your main motive for going to the cinema is to see Brad Pitt jaunting around with his hair slicked back in a bun, or Javier Bardem describing a woman's nether-regions looking like a catfish then this is the film for you. Equally so if you want to see wire used in two different types of unnecessary and unconnected de-capitation scenes. The only narrative or visual threads were contained in Cameron Diaz's styling - her eyeliner, tattoos and hair-colouring were nicely linked with her affinity to her pet leopards. I could have left halfway through, but wanted to see if Penelope Cruz's bit part would end as badly as it did: in a landfill site - where the rest of the film belongs.
A contender for 'Worst Film of 2013'. I suspect that on paper it seemed promising but the plot was forgettable,some scenes laughable. For Javier Bardem -----what were you thinking??