Friday, October 25, 2013

The Counselor Review: Look But Don't Watch

There are many acclaimed directors in Hollywood, but few have  a resume like Ridley Scott. The director has made several big time films like Alien and Gladiator and he has proven to be filmmaker with versatility. So what happens when you pair the director with the man behind No Country For Old Men?  You get The Counselor. 

With writer Cormac McCarthy teaming up with Ridley Scott, the film gained momentum very quickly. It was hard not to be excited for The Counselor ;especially when seeing the cast of the film. However, could this thriller give Ridley Scott another win under his belt?



The story of The Counselor revolves around a man simply named The Counselor, played by Michael Fassbender. Fassbender finds himself in the dark world of drug trafficking as been working with a man name Reiner, played by Javier Bardem, and  Westray, played by Brad Pitt. After proposing the girl of his dreams, Laura, played by Penelope Cruz, things are looking good for the Counselor; That is until things turn for the worst when an operation goes very wrong. 
Just by looking at it, you think that The Counselor would have a thrilling story that would have the edge of your seat. Unfortunately the plot is film’s weakest link. The Counselor throws you right into the midst of things, feeling like you walked into the film’s second act. In all of it’s run time, the story fails to explain anything. It’s like someone with a inside joke. They sit there and think about the joke and laugh and chuckles, but you’re standing  there wondering “what the hell is so funny?” While  it’s not hard to understand the over all plot, there is absolutely no detail or buildup. I’m not sure what did it: the execution or the writing? Either way, something killed this plot’s momentum.  

Where the film lacks in plot it makes up in casting. The cast has to be film’s strongest element, with Michael Fassbender giving the best performance. While The Counselor is not Fassbender best role, he still manages to pull it off thanks to his (and no pun intended) magnetism. The other great performance goes to Cameron Diaz. as Malkina. This was a different role for Cameron Diaz and it was interesting what she could do with a character like Malkina. Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Brad Pitt round out the ensemble giving us fun supporting characters.

So yes, the cast is good. However, the characters are not. This is due to the story,  but when it comes down to it, the character in this film have no development. We see that the Counselor has walked a very dark path in his career, but you never see that transformation, and so you can’t relate to him. The same thing can be said about Malkina. From the beginning of the film, we understand that Malkina is cold and seductive, and that’s about it. Don’t bother wondering whether or not you’ll see what conflict in the character, because there is none.  For having such a great cast, The Counselor seem to lack in three-dimensional characters. 

If anything stood out in the technical side of the film, I would say it is the setting and the cinematography. The setting did feel like we were in the film’s locations; and the cinematography, while not the best I've seen, still fit the film. Also, compliments go to  composer Daniel Pemberton for his stylish score. And that’s about it.


For a movie that’s a thriller, The Counselor doesn't have any thrilling scenes. The best moments for the film come from the scenes with Michael Fassbender and Javier Bardem; as well as Fassbender and  Brad Pitt. Unfortunately, the scenes are only good as scenes and not moments that add to overall film. Still, seeing these stars on screen together felt like a treat.

It may have a strong cast and it is not a poorly made film, but The Counselor is no film to be excited for. While it has a thrilling premise, the movies shoots itself in the face thanks to its poor storytelling. This film prefers to look sexy and noting more.  It may not be terrible, but I say skip The Counselor.