The Counselor Fails to Present a Compelling Case

Well there you have it. The title is a bit of a spoiler with this one. I have to say I really wanted to like The Counselor.  It has a dizzying collection of incredibly talented and good looking actors.  It is directed by Ridley Scott; a true master director.  And it was penned by Cormac McCarthy.  I mean “No Country for Old Men”?  Come on!  Unfortunately the final product was a lot less than the sum of it’s parts.    In the end I think The Counselor is a really interesting example of how writing a novel and writing a screenplay are two very different artistic endeavors and being a master of one doesn’t necessarily carry over to the other.  The screenplay here is laden with existential dialogue that feels out of place, and too weighty, given the characters and scenarios, but might have come across better as part of a novel.  In addition, too many plot threads simply hang, and too many characters are introduced, with minimal context, only to quickly disappear and never be seen again.  These problems might not be complete showstoppers if they were isolated, but here they are really systemic.  We follow these characters on an increasingly dark and disturbing journey towards destruction, but we’re never quite sure of why.  It has a strange inevitability to it that becomes the cinematic equivalent of looking out the window during a train ride.  That’s not to say there is nothing to like here though.  Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz and, in particular, Cameron Diaz are all just hypnotically good.  I could watch this collection of DNA lottery winners all day long.  In addition, Scott remains a master of setting and framing a shot, so the beautiful people have beautiful environments in which to carry out their dark deeds.  Sadly it isn’t enough to save the film, however.  Ultimately you’d just rather be watching the same folks, filmed by the same director, doing pretty much anything else and, for me at least, that was really an unpleasant surprise.  Still worth taking a look at for anyone curious, but the general audience is almost certain to leave dissatisfied.  I’m going to call it a miss, which I must admit is a bit depressing.

We're sexy and we know it!
We’re sexy and we know it!