Barton’s Movie Reviews – The Counsellor

Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt in a film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Cormac McCarthy, author of the novel No Country For Old Men. It is a recipe that should have made The Counsellor a contender for film of the year.

Instead, what we ended up with was a bit of a mess.

The Counsellor follows a lawyer, known as The Counsellor (Michael Fassbender), who gets in way over his head when he gets involved in the world of drugs trafficking. After having initially turned down the opportunity to get involved two years before, The Counsellor now finds himself persuaded by business associate Reiner (Javier Bardem) that he needs to take advantage of the position he now finds himself in.

Greed and corruption play a major part in this film and it is the greed that sees the titular character have his life unravel before him in a major downward spiral.

The main problem I had with this film was the screenplay written by Cormac McCarthy. He is known for writing novels so to me there is no surprise that his story just seems to get mixed up within itself throughout. Quite simply, there are parts in the film where there is a little bit too much going on at once. 

The screenplay isn’t really helped though by some of the actors. Fassbender just seems to be on cruise control and I found it extremely hard to empathise with him throughout the entire film. 

Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt as Westray, the man who helps The Counsellor into the drugs business, were the saviours of this film and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment they were on screen. 

Penelope Cruz as Laura, The Counsellor’s fiancé, felt a little bit underused but I think there might have been a reason for that. The Counsellor and Reiner have a conversation about the women in their life and how much they let them in on their business ventures. The Counsellor wants to shelter Laura away from his dealings but Reiner has no problem with letting his girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz) in on all of his.

That could explain why Diaz has a lot more screen time than Cruz throughout The Counsellor. If her character is directly involved in the deals and The Counsellor is trying to protect Laura then it is quite an interesting concept.

There are some pretty gruesome scenes in The Counsellor and it more than deserves an 18 certificate, the scene where Cameron Diaz has sex with a car could have earned that by itself. 

The Counsellor is a film that didn’t end up as the great film I had hoped for but there were still things to like about it. Ridley Scott is without doubt a quality director and his noticeable class does show at times. I just hope he would hit the heights he did with Gladiator again some time soon.

Verdict:2/5

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