The Counselor Review
I think the picture above best illustrates how I felt while watching this. Sitting upfront, waiting for something awesome to happen.
Lots of critics love to pan Ridley Scott, but overall, I've enjoyed his body of work. I don't see how somebody in their right mind can argue against "Alien" or "Blade Runner." I love "Gladiator," "Matchstick Men," "Black Hawk Down," and "Kingdom of Heaven." Even films critics love to pan I have liked. Yes I love "Prometheus," yes I love "Body of Lies" and yes I love "American Gangster" and I will never apologize for it. I do know that his record isn't flawless (I didn't like "Legend" or "G.I. Jane" and felt "Hannibal" was bit too stylized), but no artists record is flawless. I take every director, no matter how good their resume is, film by film. I have to. That's the absolute best way to approach a new film, if I didn't, I'd stop watching them completely.
"The Counselor" is written by Cormac McCarthy, a novelist whose had many of his works adapted into films, such as "No Country For Old Men" and "The Road." I love "No Country..." and felt "The Road" made for an okay film. No matter, McCarthy is a worthy writer, and working with a cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Dean Norris and John Leguizamo, all Scott needed to do in order for this to be gold would be to be himself. McCarthy creates a pretty simple story. A lawyer (Fassbender) wants to get into the drug trade, once his deal goes wrong, he finds out how much it will cost him personally. Seems pretty straight-forward, should make for a good movie right?
Well, while these great actors do what they can, they really don't play characters at all. It seems writing a script and writing a novel are two completely different skill sets, and McCarthy only possesses one of them. Bardem and Pitt only seem like they were hired to speak overlong monologues and look cool doing it. Penelope Cruz seems to have been hired to look pretty. Cameron Diaz is completely evil, but it isn't as exciting as it sounds, especially sense that's all her character adds up to. Despite how talky "The Counselor" is, all that chatting never leads anywhere, and we never learn much about the characters.
The films main focus seems to be that drug dealing is bad. Congratulations Mr. McCarthy, what profound insight. By now, more legendary filmmakers have taken a crack at the drug-crime movie that you have to bring something clever and unique to make it work. I think Scott and McCarthy just thought they'd hire a cast of A-List actors and the cast would sell it. Well star charisma and its power can only take a movie so far, we need some real thematic meat to take it the rest of the way. "The Counselor" provides none of that, the film is sleek and stylish for sure, but none of sticks.
I will say one thing, watching Cameron Diaz dry hump a car was interesting. Yes, Diaz dry humps a car...yest it is unabashedly random
FINAL GRADE: C