Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Counselor

Despite the talent of director Ridley Scott, screenwriter Cormac McCarthy and an all-star cast, The Counselor is a mess. To be sure it's a well-acted and well-produced mess with stand-out scenes, but it's a mess none the less. The movie's major flaw, other than McCarthy attempting to over-think a drug deal gone bad, is the less-than-believable dialogue from several of the film's stars who come off as reading lines they haven't quite fully bought into rather than delivering it naturally from the the mouths of fully-embodied characters.

Michael Fassbender stars as a character only ever referred to as "the Counselor," a lawyer who makes the bad decision to get into the drug smuggling trade only to put the lives of himself, a friend (Javier Bardem), associate (Brad Pitt), and his beautiful fiance (Penélope Cruz) in danger.

Unfortunately for the Counselor, his friend's crazy girlfriend (Cameron Diaz) has her own plan for the drugs, leaving everyone else to take the fall after executing her plans from the shadows.

The Counselor is memorable for individuals scenes such as the beheading of a motorcycle rider (in a broader subplot that goes nowhere), the opening sex scene between Fassbender and Cruz, the story of Diaz's character literally fucking her boyfriend's car, and the unusual death involving a ever-tightening collar which eventually leaves its victim headless (first through a well-described story and later through a, mostly unnecessary, visual representation of the same events). More trainwreck than complete disaster, there are pieces of The Counselor that work well but far more that don't, making it impossible for me to recommend.

Although the extras on the DVD are rather scarce, the Blu-ray does include both the theatrical and an unrated extended edition featuring an additional 20 minutes of extra footage along with the film's trailer, deleted scenes, and 13 featurettes on the making of the film.

[20th Century Fox, DVD $29.98 / Blu-ray $39.99]

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