Ex-criminal Jacob Sternwood is forced to return to London when his son is involved in a heist gone wrong. This gives his nemesis, detective Max Lewinsky, one last chance to catch the man he's always been after.
A rich and successful lawyer, the Counselor, is about to get married to his fiancée but soon becomes entangled in a complex drug plot with a middle-man known as Westray. The plan ends up taking a horrible twist and he must protect himself and his soon to be bride as the truth of the drug business is uncovered and targets are eliminated. Written by
Normally, I fully appreciate bleak films with utterly despicable characters that leave you thinking rather than leaving the theater with a smile on your face, joyous to the fact that the hero saved the day yet again. Sorry, that's not my kind of story as overdone as it is. I prefer brutal realism where humanity is depicted in a much less phony manner. That's exactly what The Counselor promises as its characters take fairly regrettable paths- flawed people that make mistakes in a criminal environment. Some are more oblivious to it (or outright merciless), and some are much more humane in their methods. At first glance, it seems as if it's impossible for The Counselor to be proved a disappointment from the looks of its amazing cast (the likes of Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, and Penelope Cruz), exceptional director with a credible resume, and a totally prestigious author signed on for his first screenplay. In addition, it appears to be a crime thriller, which definitely commences my adrenaline rush because it's personally my favorite genre.
Unfortunately, this film is a perfect example of "don't judge a book by its cover" (whether positively or negatively; people just love positivism so they usually associate the idiom with negativism). To simply put it, the story is a complete mess right from the start. We have our main character who goes by "Counselor" (played by one of my favorites, Michael Fassbender) confusingly dropped into this situation. How did he end up in this predicament? Why did he choose to pursue such a perilous and illicit path? Basically, the movie never explains anything. You're left in wonderment, attempting to figure out who is on whose side. Who wants to kill them exactly? Characters end up in random places, and the story never even bothers to explain how the two characters even know each other. The script just conveniently places two movie stars in one scene without an effectively developed context to service it. What follows are countless scenes where characters engage in conversation, vaguely discussing the circumstances.
The dialogue also feels vastly strange because the characters don't talk like actual people do in reality. Their speech sounds quite literary as they spout metaphor after metaphor, coupled with complex vocabulary. With that being said, I had no issue with it at first. In that, I mean I held no issue with the style of speech. What I did have an issue with was the way the characters spoke in a way that fully befuddled the viewers. It's like only the characters are in on it the entire way without the audience's understanding. In essence, it makes for an inconvenient and confusing experience.
Speaking of the cast, Javier Bardem was really the only one that stood out to me. Frankly, Cameron Diaz had me bewildered. She's supposed to be from Barbados with an accent- See, I wasn't even sure whether she was sporting an accent or not. At times, it felt like she had an accent going on, and then in other moments, she was speaking fluent and clear English; so I have no idea what was going on there. Even then, the film could've easily hidden all these flaws by presenting us with a thrilling and suspenseful plot, but it actually turned out to be incredibly uneventful. The scope didn't feel as exciting as it was supposed to be, and it definitely wasted an incredible amount of potential. So yes, I'm absolutely saddened; this was one of my most anticipated films of this year, if not my most anticipated, and it ended up falling embarrassingly flat.
There were a few disturbingly violent scenes that boosted the film's tone, for lack of a better term, literally, and reminded us of the excellence of No Country for Old Men. You're also met with an outrageous sex scene that's equally disturbing and sexy for some, and those scenes might be the only snippets of The Counselor remembered down the road. The ending was also not very reassuring, cutting to the credits unexpectedly shortly after another monotonous and ambiguous conversation. The only decent element of this movie was its soundtrack, but then again, its quality could've just been determined in comparison to the oddity and nuisance that the rest of the film consisted of. In sum, the best way to describe The Counselor is "brutally unsatisfying." I felt no sense of satisfaction by the time it drew to a close, and everything simply felt so meaningless and forgettable. There's no question that it left a bad taste in my mouth, and I sincerely hope that Ridley Scott ups his game sometime soon.
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