The Counselor

Date: November 2013

Release Year: 2013, Director: Ridley Scott, IMDB Link

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An all-star cast is a potential double-edged sword. It has a certain appeal and sexiness, but unfortunately when it comes to making a movie the simple “2+2 = 4” formula doesn’t apply every single time. There are numerous examples in the history, when you put a lot of famous actors in the same movie, the result can be catastrophic – mostly due to lack of good script and/or interesting dialogue. Unfortunately, Ridley Scott’s latest effort The Counselor doesn’t prove to be an exception to this case. Moreover, it might be the worst movie that Scott has ever directed.

The Counselor tells a story that spans several different countries but the action mainly takes place around the Mexican border. The Counselor (played by Fassbender, and his real name is never revealed throughout the movie) is a lawyer who deals with filthy-rich, high profile customers. After listening to the suggestions of his associates Reiner (a rich and eccentric investor played by Bardem) and Westray (a typical southern business man with cowboy outfit, played by Pitt), he decides to step into the drug trafficking business. Well, as you can easily guess the Mexican cartel soon gets involved and the counselor’s dream of being a drug king spirals down in chaos and destruction.

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You have probably scrolled down to the end of the page and saw that I gave a very low score for this movie. Now let me justify it. There are so many things wrong with this movie, I don’t know where to start. Okay, okay. Let’s start with the genre. The Counselor tries to be a character driven crime drama and a thriller at the same time, and unfortunately fails miserably at both.

By looking at the title of the movie, you suspect that the plot will be focused on the counselor, and indeed early in the movie he is introduced as a guy with an excellent taste in clothing, woman and cars. You begin to assume that his personality and intelligence will play an important role in the story. But later, it turns out that his existence is almost irrelevant to the plot! He is just an observer to the events that unfold around him and he doesn’t make any decisions that alter the story at all. To be honest, characters played by Pitt and Bardem are far more interesting than the titular character– it makes you wonder why Scott and McCarthy (writer of the script) put the counselor on the spotlight in the first place.

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As a thriller, there are a few scenes that are nicely shot and save the movie from being complete garbage (see the definitive scenes section at the end of the review). However the overall pace of the movie is too damn slow to create any suspense or thrill. I am rarely bored by a movie; I can even stand most of the poorly written and acted out B-movies, but some scenes in The Counselor almost made me fall asleep. Yes, I am aware that Scott is not renowned for fast paced movies, but this is way too slow even by his standards. And the fact the movie was written by McCarthy, who penned out the excellent No Country for Old Men, makes you wonder if the final product was really what is was intended to be.

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Oh, I haven’t mentioned the worst part yet. Cameron Diaz is absolutely ridiculous in this movie. Really, she deserves a lifelong Golden Raspberry award for her performance here. She is so unrealistic, pretentious and fake that it almost made me laugh at some scenes. Moreover, she is a central character in the plot and unlike the counselor, her decisions alter the course of the story. Diaz should seriously consider retiring from acting at this point. This is possibly one of the worst lead female performances given by a high profile Hollywood actress in the last decade or so.

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Well, did I like anything about the movie at all? Actually yes, no matter how awful it is, you can tell that this is a Scott movie, because his trademarks are all over the place. For instance, the extreme attention to the details in internal decoration on the counselor’s and Reiner’s home, the use of sound and music to increase the tension in action scenes, and the differences in clothing style and color to separate the good guys from the bad guys. I also liked the symbolic storytelling based around Diaz’s character. It revolves around the concept of hunting and leopards.

Finally, I want to mention that one of the reasons why I had high expectations for the movie was the teaser (you can watch it above). The teaser involves a scene that is absent in the movie, and the chemistry and erotic tension between Dormer and Fassbender. Also, the dialogue is simply incredible in that scene. Believe me, this 2-minute teaser is more enjoyable than the whole movie. Feel free to watch the it and skip the movie, there are much better films in theaters nowadays.

Definitive Scenes: Masturbating with the windshield, wire decapitation, the car chase with Bardem, the implied snuff movie DVD in the end.

Score: 3.5/10

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