The Counselor (2013)

“Having it all, means risking it all”

Ridley Scott and 5 amazing actors put together, naturally i expect some kind of brilliant film awaits me for the 117 minutes run of The Counselor. But i guess you should never, ever, ever expect to judge a film by its actors and director alone. The Counselor (or The Counsellor, depending on your territories) is the first original screenplay written by famed american novelist Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy novels already won the Pulitzer price for The Road which has been adapted to a motion picture. The most famous adaptation for his work probably is No Country for Old Man (2005), which was adapted into an award-winning motion picture under the same name. No wonder the film felt like a book instead.
The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is taking a huge risk by investing on a drug trafficking scheme from a notorious drug cartel. He believed he would cash out big time, finally marrying the love of his life, Laura (Penélope Cruz), and partnering with Reiner (Javier Bardem) in opening a new club. But like everything in life, it rarely goes according to plan. His normal life suddenly gone awry when a middle man (Brad Pitt) inform him of the twisted reality that suddenly made him a likely target.
The first thought i had in the middle of the screening was whether The Counselor is a part of a sequel. I feel like i was thrown in the middle of a story and as it progress i feel more and more removed from it. But The Counselor is not a character study, nor it is a formulaic thriller, instead what i found was a grim cautionary tale: of greed, of evil, of moral dilemma. There’s a poignancy the way things connect and unravel towards the end. In a way that almost poetic, especially in the ending for The Counselor and Laura character. Ridley Scott and his frequent collaborator Dariusz Wolski presented us beautiful imagery that contrasted to the gruesome violence in the film. I wish everything would be as subtle and implicit as the DVD at the very end of the film. Some scenes, such as the infamous Diaz and the Ferrari, was rather indulgent and disposable.
I did not think the pacing was bad, because of the nature of the script i think Peter Scalia did an awesome job nevertheless. The thing that bothers me most is the dialogue. It’s filled with philosophical wisdom and at the very end we would see that every conversational drool is a clue of what to come. But this is something that would work a lot better in a literary form, rather than audio visual. I found myself blanking out for a few seconds during some of their conversations. And yes, not even these cast can elevate the despondent dialogues. Fassbender’s usually stellar performance was rather dull despite his status as the lead here. I understand the kind of transformation he supposed to endure but the delivery is not particularly great. His on screen partner, Cruz is not particularly memorable either. Bardem decked out in gaudy Versace-esque shirt and orange fake tan is a manage to keep his toes from crossing the line of becoming a caricature, his was one of the better actor in this ensemble. Cameron Diaz as the predatory, silver-taloned Malkina, sometimes fell out of character, but when she got it right she got it good indeed. A notable performance by Natalie Dormer as The Blonde only have a few lines here as the seductress on the line between good and evil, rightly deserve a special mention.
I have to mull over The Counselor before deciding whether or not i enjoyed the movie. I believe i did not, despite it was not a spectacularly bad film. That being said i do love the gist of the idea, i think it was very poetic and i was appealed by how forbidding it is. I just wish for a bit of eloquence in the script that would do wonder to the overall end result.


GENRE Thriller
DIRECTOR Ridley Scott | PRODUCER Ridley Scott, Nick Wechsler, Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz | WRITER Cormac McCarthy | MUSIC Daniel Pemberton | CINEMATOGRAPHER Dariusz Wolski | EDITOR Pietro Scalia | STUDIO Scott Free Productions, Nick Wechsler Production, Chockstone Pictures | DISTRIBUTOR 20th Century Fox | COUNTRY United States, United Kingdom | RUNNING TIME 117 minutes | BUDGET $25 Million | RATING R for strong graphic violence, grisly images, strong sexual content and language | RELEASE October 25, 2013, December 4th, 2013 (ID)
STARRING Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Natalie Dormer

IMDb |Official website | Trailer


DID YOU KNOW? Melkina’s name is derrived from the word ‘grimalkin’ which means evil looking female cat. Btw, there’s two short clips of character backstory of The Counselor that you can watch: Counselor/The Blonde | Renier/Malkina


15 thoughts on “The Counselor (2013)

    • Please do, i think there’s a lot of polarizing reviews though.. People either love it or hate it.. i ended up in the middle apparently xD

  1. Agreed. This one is bad. Flat out bad. Specifically because of the repetitive, long-winded, and overly stylized monologues that serve as its dialogue. McCarthy should stick to novels and let others produce screenplays from his ideas.

    • I know i was sold on the cast too. I was a very underwhelmed by it. Maybe you can watch it once its available in rental Chris.

  2. I had such big expectations for this one and the film really failed me. Love your Dormer mention, she was incredible in such short performance, she almost stole the show.

    • I did too, especially with the caliber of director and actors involved. I have to mention her as she’s such a scene stealer :) i love how her character just named The Blonde and the backstory between her and the counselor too, have you seen it?

  3. The cast does seem pretty interesting stuff with this material to where you could have seen it being really, REALLY good, but it just ends up coming off like a mess where characters do such things for no reason whatsoever. Like Diaz banging that car! What the hell!!?!? Good review.

  4. “Cameron Diaz as the predatory, silver-taloned Malkina, sometimes fell out of character, but when she got it right she got it good indeed”

    I completely agree. She can go from good to bad within a few seconds. Malkina isn’t an easy character to play, and there are many scenes where its seems as if Diaz has no idea what’s going on; delivering lines in a very stereotypical villainous way. Luckily, when she was good, she was excellent.

    Great review!
    I love your layout too!

    • Malkina i think should be one of the most interesting character in the film and i was hoping Diaz performance would be more thorough with her portrayal.
      Thanks Jack!

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