The Counselor

Have you ever left a movie theater and asked yourself what the hell just happened?  Ridley Scott’s The Counselor left me confused and disappointed, despite a red-hot cast and seemingly entertaining plot.  The ingredients were top-shelf, but the final dish left me unsatisfied.  Let’s examine briefly why I thought this would have been a good movie, that way if you were intrigued by the same factors – I can save you the trouble of buying a movie ticket or even watching the bootleg.

Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) is a very talented actor.  He has the versatility to do mainstream movies like those of the X-Men franchise, but also the gravitas to take on movies like Shame, where he blew me away with a raw, intense performance.  Penelope Cruz (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and Javier Bardem (Skyfall) are Academy Award winning actors, and Cameron Diaz has plenty of hits under her belt.  Brad Pitt is, well…Brad Pitt.  The cast clearly pulled me in, but I also like movies of this type.  Crime-themed, maybe a little on the violent and sexy side.  Check, check, and check.  Imagine my dismay when it became clear to me that The Counselor was a turd.

Fassbender stars in the title role, and we never get his real name.  Everyone annoyingly refers to him as “Counselor,” which stops being clever relatively quickly.  Cruz is featured as Laura, his adoring fiancé who is naïve to her lover’s questionable legal ventures.  Presumably to keep his beloved in the lifestyle to which she is accustomed, or perhaps just due to good old-fashioned greed – the Counselor decides to participate in a questionable transaction with a high-level drug kingpin.  Javier Bardem is Reiner, the client who helps broker the unseen deal.  Cameron Diaz (Bad Teacher) smolders as Reiner’s girlfriend Malkina, contrasting sharply with Laura.  Brad Pitt makes an appearance as a middleman for the deal.  And this is right about where I got lost – shortly after the movie began promisingly enough with an introduction to the main players.

The chief problem with The Counselor was not one of the performances.  The cast was powerless to elevate their roles above the source material, though Fassbender certainly gave it a go.  Actually, they were all rather alluring characters, in their own way.  But the movie was all over the place.  It’s almost like some scenes were deleted and we got a rough cut.  I’m talking plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon.  The script lacked cohesion, which led to illogical things happening.  I went to a late showing, so I wondered if maybe my eyelids got heavy at one point and I’d missed something.  Nope, the consensus is that it sucked.  Perhaps this movie will air on cable one night and you can laugh at the unintentional comedy.  That’s the only recommended viewing for this stinker.  Grade: D

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