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The Counselor (2013)

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A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

Director:

Ridley Scott

Writer:

Cormac McCarthy
Reviews
Popularity
1,830 ( 628)
5 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Fassbender ... Counselor
Penélope Cruz ... Laura
Cameron Diaz ... Malkina
Javier Bardem ... Reiner
Cesar Aguirre Cesar Aguirre ... Truck Driver #1 (as César Aguirre)
Daniel Holguín ... Truck Driver #2 (as Daniel Holguin)
Chris Obi ... Malkina's Bodyguard
Bruno Ganz ... Diamond Dealer
Richard Cabral ... Young Biker
Provence Maydew Provence Maydew ... Woman in Grocery Store
Brad Pitt ... Westray
Paris Jefferson ... Waitress
Dar Dash ... Barman
Rosie Perez ... Ruth
Alex Hafner ... Highway Patrolman
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Storyline

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 DJDC

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Want it all. Risk it all. Lose it all. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Spanish | Dutch

Release Date:

25 October 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El abogado del crimen See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,842,930, 27 October 2013, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$16,973,715, 8 August 2014

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$71,009,334, 8 August 2014
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended cut) | (unrated extended cut)

Sound Mix:

Datasat | Dolby | SDDS (uncredited)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Javier Bardem's hair was the actor's own and inspired by film producer Brian Grazer's hairdo. See more »

Goofs

(at around 50 mins) When Malkina is driving the yellow Ferrari California on the golf course, the cables used for the internal cabin lights are clearly visible going through Reiner's passenger door. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Laura: Are you awake?
Counselor: No. What time is it?
Laura: Two o'clock. Almost two o'clock.
Counselor: AM or PM?
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Alternate Versions

The 'Unrated Extended Cut' is 20 minutes longer than the 'Theatrical Cut'(117 min.) and runs nearly 138 minutes. It features new scenes, extended scenes and a little alternative footage. Some scenes are extended substantially, for example the philosophical dialogue between the Counselor and the Diamond Dealer and between the Counselor and the Cartel Leader. In this version the Diamond Dealer is characterized as a Sephardic Jew from Spain with a tragic past involving a deceased woman. The Cartel Leader's extended monologue gains nearly apocalyptic qualities. The sex scene at the beginning is longer and contains stronger sexual activity from Laura. The sexually ambiguous relationship between Laura and Malkina is explored deeper in an additional scene. Reiner tells more anecdotes about his former girlfriends, friends and what he 'learned' about women. The dialogue scenes with Westray contain more details about the unpredictable dangers of the drug trade. The notorious death scene of Westray is extended and more graphic. The 'Unrated Extended Cut' contains in general more profanity and sexual references than the R-rated 'Theatrical Cut'. See more »

Connections

Featured in Film '72: Episode dated 10 December 2014 (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Zapata Se Queda
Written by Lila Downs and Paul Cohen
Performed by Lila Downs Con Celso Piña Y Toto La Momposina
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment México, S.A. De C.V.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Counselor: A Shakespearean tragedy of greed and desperation.
25 October 2013 | by Ser_Stephen_SeaworthSee all my reviews

The Counselor, like previous McCarthy adaptations, is gorgeous to behold, but unlike No Country and the others, this one is unnervingly bright, lensed in iridescent yellows and grungy grim tones. It lacks the scope of a Gladiator or a Kingdom of Heaven, instead acting as a somehow intimate, character-driven (or perhaps "dialogue-driven" is better) tale. It is, one could say, Ridley Scott's first fable (yes, Legend notwithstanding).

Allow me to explain. The story, like most McCarthy tales, is simple: a nameless lawyer (Fassbender), madly in love with his fiancée Laura (Cruz) and seeking to provide for her and give her the life she deserves, decides to get in a once-and-I'm-out deal: namely, to get involved in a venture dealing with twenty million dollars worth of drugs being ferried to the States from Mexico. The counselor's associates in this job are the flamboyant Reiner (Javier Bardem, returning to McCarthy's bleak world yet again, though this time sporting a Brian Grazer-esque hairdo instead of Chigurh's pageboy) and middleman Westray (Brad Pitt, sporting a Tom Petty style), both of whom warn the counselor that this deal will change his life in ways he cannot fathom. The film also focuses on Reiner's Argentinean squeeze Malkina, played by Cameron Diaz. Malkina is a glammed-up diva in the Donatella Versace vein (comparable to Kristin Scott Thomas's equally diva-like turn in Only God Forgives; they could be sisters), sporting a cheetah-spot design tattooed to her throat and a felicitous feline sneer everywhere she turns (she even owns a pair of cheetahs that she sics on desert jackrabbits for her and Reiner's amusement).

Of course, as is wont to happen in McCarthy's world, something goes wrong, sh_t hits the fan, and the lives of every character hangs in the balance. Characters are sliced, diced, shot and (in one gruesome instance) subject to a weapon of grim ingenuity that involves a motor, a loop of unbreakable wire, and a jetting gout of blood. Yet the film also brings levity to it in spades, to the point that The Counselor could almost be considered a black comedy. Much of the film's action is "interaction," as the counselor deals with the other characters that warn, judge, and even blame him for the capricious trick of fate that has sealed their own. McCarthy's penchant for cipher-like monologues is in full play here, and it can bog down an unwary traveler. That said, for all of its deep soliloquies and terse warnings, the film is not indecipherable, and at times McCarthy's caustic wit comes across brilliantly.

Scott and McCarthy manage to coax some pretty impressive work from their cadre. Michael Fassbender, whose character is himself little more than an archetype (the "good man who f_cks up once and pays for it dearly"), is actually quite good here, and I'm probably in the minority when I say that I prefer his turn here over his acclaimed performance in Shame (a film I respect but have little affection for). Cruz makes the most of a rather lightweight part, and even though her character exists as little more than an ideal, it still works. Bardem is, for once, the comic relief, playing an entrancingly funny motormouth who is the polar opposite of his last McCarthy character. He is the one who has the most fun with the dialogue and despite English being his second language, he nails Cormac's every nuance. Pitt's Westray is laid-back yet high-strung, and seems an easy fit for the actor, giving every line a wry twist. But the true revelation is Diaz's against-type turn. She is the character audiences will remember most of all, and not just because of her fornication with a Bentley (it makes sense in context . . . I think). There is a hard, wicked steel in her performance, almost predatory. There are other memorable turns, like Ruben Blades's one-scene wonder and even Dean Norris of Breaking Bad fame, that make this a truly sumptuous ensemble.

The Counselor is not an easy watch, both because of its violence and because Scott and McCarthy (I have to credit both men; it feels like such a collaborative creative effort) don't dumb it down. It's a simple story, but it's also one that feels like Scott's most mature work. It isn't without its flaws (certain scenes run on a bit long, while others feel a bit short-changed), but The Counselor results in a perverse viewing that is, in a word, unforgettable.


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