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The Counselor

By REBECCA JACOBSON
So far as I can tell, The Counselor has one primary lesson to teach viewers: Drug trafficking is bad. Real bad. Unless, of course, you’re an exotic dancer-turned-heartless villain with cheetah print tattoos down your back and your fingernails painted silver. Then you’re in the clear. The Counselor, directed by Ridley Scott and written by Cormac McCarthy (it’s the author’s first original screenplay), is an unmitigated mess. It’s a cautionary tale about drug trafficking and reckless romance, set on the U.S.-Mexico border, but it’s so full of faux-poetic mumbo-jumbo and so choppily assembled that the result is just frustrating and dumb. The titular character, played by Michael Fassbender, is an unnamed lawyer who has gotten himself into a mess involving a martini-guzzling client (Javier Bardem, his hair looking like he stuck his finger in an electric socket) and a cowboy hat-wearing middleman (Brad Pitt). As it becomes obvious things will unravel for Fassbender, Pitt turns to him: “Counselor, I don’t know what you should do, but it’s out of your hands,” he says. The film, likewise, spirals out of Scott’s hands, lurching between disconnected vignettes and gruesome acts of violence. We get some glimpses into the ludicrously moneyed world these characters inhabit, a place where cheetahs wearing rhinestone collars sit both poolside and piano-side. It’s a world of Bentleys, diamonds and snakeskin boots, riches that Scott ogles in artless close-ups. It’s also an oversexed world, which is where that woman with the cheetah-print tattoos enters. She’s played by Cameron Diaz, in a stiff, affected performance so bad it’s painful to watch. As with McCarthy’s novels adapted for the screen—The Road and No Country for Old MenThe Counselor is peopled with bizarre characters harboring dark motives. This effort, though, could have used some counseling of its own.
 
  • Genres: Thriller
  • Running Time: 111 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, October 25, 2013
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: R [ Graphic Violence, Language, Some Grisly Images, Strong Sexual Content ]
  • Critic's Score: D+
  • Starring: Michael Fassbender [The Counselor], Brad Pitt [Westray], Cameron Diaz [Malkina], Javier Bardem [], Penélope Cruz []
  • Directed by: Ridley Scott [Director], Cormac McCarthy [Screenwriter], Steve Schwartz [Producer], Nick Wechsler [Producer], Ridley Scott [Producer], Paula Schwartz [Producer]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer
 

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