By M. Scott Morris
A bunch of talented people got together and made a bad movie.
That’s all you really need to know about “The Counselor,” but I’ve got time so why don’t I elaborate?
Let’s start with the talent: Michael Fassbender, who’s only known as the Counselor, his girlfriend, Laura (Penélope Cruz); a dangerous woman, Malkina (Cameron Diaz); a successful drug dealer, Reiner (Javier Bardem); another successful drug dealer, Westray (Brad Pitt); a prisoner, Ruth (Rosie Perez); and a drug lord (Rubén Blades).
I’d sign that cast any day of the week, especially with an original screenplay by Cormac McCarthy, and Ridley Scott serving as director.
And all that talent doesn’t exactly go to waste. Levers are pulled and performances are delivered that held my attention until the credits rolled.
On the flip side, “The Counselor” annoyed the heck out of me, especially at the end, when all secrets are revealed, leaving nothing but a nihilistic void.
The Counselor is a lawyer in Texas who apparently needs money. We’re never told why. He hooks up with Reiner and Westray, who both give dark, long-winded and occasionally witty speeches to explain why that’s a bad idea. The Counselor signs up despite the warnings.
Something goes wrong with the deal, and we get more long-winded speeches about how exceedingly ruthless the drug cartels are. Then we get to see the drug cartels be exceedingly ruthless.
Mixed among the blood are oddly stupid moments, as when Laura parks in a remote spot of an airport parking deck when she knows bad people are after her.
Another time, somebody sets up a trap along a road that makes sense only if you believe that no one except the target will use that road for the next hour.
With all that said, I think any film fan should watch “The Counselor” just to see how wrong a movie can go, even with overwhelming star power and topnotch production values.
I can’t give it an F because so many interesting and disturbing things happen on screen.
To call it a train wreck is an insult to train wrecks. Nobody’s going to die or, worse by Hollywood standards, lose their career.
But everyone connected gets to wear “The Counselor” around their necks for a while, like a badge of shame – high-paid shame, but shame nonetheless.
I give “The Counselor” a D minus.
It’s showing at the Cinemark in Tupelo, as well as Malcos in Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.