The Counselor: Great acting and storytelling, but not much of a story

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comOctober 24, 2013 

Film Review-The Counselor

This photo released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Michael Fassbender, left, as The Counselor, and Javier Bardem, as Reiner, in the film, "The Counselor." (AP Photo/Copyright Twentieth Century Fox, Kerry Brown)


The Counselor is a complicated, character-laden thriller about a debt-riddled attorney going after big money in a drug deal. Everything goes wrong and a drug cartel thinks the attorney and his associates double-crossed them. The moral is never cross a drug cartel or let them think you've done such a thing.

Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) is Counselor. Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt play non-connected wheeling, dealing friends. Penelope Cruz does Counselor's beautiful but naive bride to be, and Cameron Diaz rounds out the main cast as Bardem's mysterious, game-playing squeeze.

Doing bit parts are Rosie Perez, John Leguizamo, Ruben Blades and Bruno Ganz.

The Counselor is done by superb storyteller Ridley Scott and is written by The Road's Cormac McCarthy. No complaints about the acting, directing and cinematography. They are superb. The writing is not so impressive. McCarthy may be a brilliant novelist, but his screenplay skills -- to put it bluntly -- suck. All lines delivered by the characters are cryptic. They talk in circles and those circles have circles.

Everything is telegraphed. A subject comes up in conversation. "Have you ever seen a ...?" Or somebody, somebody did this or that. Count on it ending up somewhere in the plot. The intent is irony. The result is predictability leading to boredom.

The Counselor is one of those films that makes you want to go home a take a long, hot shower after the credits roll. It's just plain icky. None of the characters are likable, relatable or convincing. To put it simply, there isn't much to like here.

Considering the cast, director and writer, it's not just surprising, it's disappointing.

Director: Ridley Scott

Stars: Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars

Rated R for violence, mature themes, sex, drugs and drug use. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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