The Counselor (2013)

October 25, 2013 By Mike B
Movie Review

The Counselor Film Review

What Worked?

Personal greed always needs satisfaction, but it can never be truly satisfied. This is a theme that’s been explored plenty of times, and Ridley Scott implements it into his latest film, the Counselor. Scott weaves the story of a lawyer, played by Michael Fassbender, that dips into drug trafficking and eventually drowns in it. Fassbender is joined by an amazing cast, including Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, and Cameron Diaz. This film is also the debut of Cormac McCarthy as a screenwriter.

Scott is undoubtedly a talented filmmaker, and he constructs a literate film with no easy answers with his latest project. This thriller isn’t exactly a by-the-books run, in terms of how the story is presented, and that gives it an edge. McCarthy’s screenplay examines the human condition, and doesn’t hold anyone’s hands with his beautiful, insightful narrative that reveals the truth about greed. The film is shockingly violent, at times funny, and insightful, despite being all over the place.

The cast turn in solid performances, and there are quite a few characters stuffed into the film so it’s hard to focus on just one. The protagonist is Fassbender’s character simply referred to as “the counselor.” Fassbender once again shows that he is one of today’s finest actors, as he portrays a man breaking down from the fact that he let his greed take over his love. Another notable character is Bardem’s Reiner, with his electrified hair, friendly smile, and loud outfits that look like they’re on crack. Although he’s a criminal, he’s definitely a likable one that you would consider befriending despite his habits. What people will be talking about the most might be Diaz’s performance as the nefarious Malkina, and just like the film, people will love her or hate her for the same reasons.

Overall, the Counselor is an entertaining film that does manage to examine greed through its lyrical dialogue. It’s a film that will allow you to ponder about how greed has the power to infect any corner of the soul.

Potential Drawbacks:

When you’re watching the film, and you’re confused about what’s going on, you shouldn’t worry too much because half the audience probably is too. The plot can be confusing, and the characters are plentiful. The film has the clown car syndrome, as characters keep appearing left and right. You might be scratching your head, wondering who’s who, and who’s doing what.

The characters are entertaining; however, none of them are fully fleshed out enough to invest in completely. The Wolf from Pulp Fiction says it the best: “just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character.” Diaz’s character, Malkina, may divide people. From where I was sitting, she seemed like a Bond villain, although it was refreshing to see her in a more interesting role.

The dialogue is very artfully crafted, but some people might not by into that, and think that the dialogue was too perfect. It might sound too much like prose to some viewers.

The film also feels uneven, as more of the tense moments come in the second half. The Counselor just isn’t consistent, and feels too bloated with characters that it’s difficult to connect to the core of the film.

Film Recommendations:

No Country for Old Men




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