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
Drowns under the weight of cryptic dialogue and abstract storytelling.
With three of his novels being adapted into critically acclaimed films, Cormac McCarthy has opted to try his hand at screen writing, and the fruits of his labor can be seen in The Counselor. Directed by Ridley Scott, the film stars Michael Fassbender as a high-priced lawyer who decides to dabble in something a bit less than legal in order to make some extra cash.
Against the advice of associates Reiner (Javier Bardem) and Westray (Brad Pitt), The Counselor (whose name is never mentioned) has somehow gotten himself involved in the drug trafficking business, although the film remains ambiguous about the specifics. Motivated by the love of a beautiful woman (Penelope Cruz) and the desire to maintain the lifestyle he's enjoyed for so long, he never takes into account the sort of consequences he may be subjected to, should things not go according to plan.
As the trailers for the film make abundantly clear, things do not, in fact, go according to plan - at least, that's what we're led to believe, since the details of The Counselor's involvement in said plan are never actually revealed. Despite being warned about this scenario from the very beginning, by nearly every other character in the film, The Counselor remains inexplicably shocked and stunned when things begin to unravel.
Ridley Scott's latest directorial effort is peppered with lengthy scenes that find The Counselor engaged in conversations with other characters as they try to impart kernels of wisdom, truth and philosophy. Unfortunately, first-time screenwriter McCarthy fails to realize that he's not writing a novel here. Despite the brilliance of his literary works, he doesn't take into account the fact that living, breathing people rarely speak in monologues, and there's scarcely an ounce of naturally delivered dialogue in any of these exchanges.
Indeed, if you watch closely you can actually see the actors struggling to wrap their heads (and mouths) around these complex conversations that are surely meant to sound intelligent, but come across as anything but. It's hard to find fault with the talented cast, but when working with such messy material, it's difficult to be at the top of your game.
Despite the script's shortcomings, The Counselor provides enough intrigue to keep things moving along for about 90 minutes or so. The problem, of course, is that the film grinds to a complete and utter halt with another half hour still left in the tank, and the final 30 minutes is some of the most excruciatingly boring cinema I've seen this year. It's a frustrating and befuddling experience, and I left the theater wondering exactly what the hell had happened, both in front of the camera and behind it.
-- Brent Hankins, www.nerdrep.com
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