Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Counselor

Movie Name: The Counselor
Year of Release: 2013
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Rosie Perez, Bruno Ganz, Dean Norris, Goran Visnjic, Natalie Dormer, John Leguizamo, Edgar Ramirez
Genre: Drama, Crime, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4

Ridley Scott's prolific career continues, as the director returns a year later after "Prometheus" debuted to tepid reviews, with "The Counselor", the first screenplay written for the screen by acclaimed writer Cormac McCarthy. The film follows the story of a "Counselor" (whose name we never know), who is entangled with some shady businesses. He's engaged to the beautiful Laura (who's unaware of his dealings) and has a business partner by the name of Reiner. Reiner is himself involved in a series of businesses, and has a "dangerous" partner by the name of Malkina, who is a woman who has seen and done everything. When the Counselor gets involved in a drug business, he gets some instructions from Westray, a seasoned professional in the field. Everything seems to be on track, until things take a turn for the worse.
Ridley Scott has had a career punctuated by uneven films and subjects - his best features such as "Alien", "Blade Runner" and "Thelma and Louise" always had strong screenplays and visuals, the latter something that has always defined the work of this director. "The Counselor" however fails to achieve the interesting results that his latest features have garnered - the core of the problems lie within the screenplay. There's an array of characters, apparently doing very bad things for no specific purpose, but the surprising element to it, is the verbiage with which these so called criminals discuss the nature of evil, of duplicity, of love, women and so forth. The connection between what the characters are suppose to do or aspire to do, and their actions is non-existent - all of this is smothered in monologues/dialogues that feel awkward (and interminable). Whereas Quentin Tarantino creates films where the sound of his own words can extend a bit too long, those are still engaging and pertinent with the overall scenario he creates - in "The Counselor" that continuity is non-existent. The supporting female characters are severely underwritten - Penelope Cruz has barely nothing to do, whereas Cameron Diaz's evil Malkina, is borderline a comical one (which she emphasizes by wearing too much eye makeup and uneven haircut). It's painful to see the talented Michael Fassbender trying to give dimension to his Counselor, in what is a central character without a sense of urgency or fear. Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem create interesting, yet brief characters. For all the beauty on display in this film, it's surprisingly hollow and devoid of character. Avoid.