The Counselor

By James Sabata

The Counselor stars Michael Fassbender as a lawyer who has gotten involved in a lucrative drug deal

with the Mexican Cartel, unaware of how much he has really gambled on this venture. With Cormac

McCarthy penning the script and Ridley Scott directing, I felt positive this would be a movie I really

enjoyed. I even left the theater completely in love with this film. I liked the insanity of the plot. The

chaotic nature of everything was fun in the moment. However, after a couple days of thinking about it,

my view has greatly changed.

The plot itself is a convoluted mess. It comes in partway through the story, ends partway through the

story, and never explains the parts it doesn’t show. While it is a fun ride while it’s happening, the simple

fact is that the parts never equal a cohesive whole. The characters are largely one dimensional, which

is okay, as they quickly come in and out of the Counselor’s life, but the fact that the Counselor himself

is also a one dimensional character is unforgivable. All of the characters speak in elaborate Cormac

McCarthy talk, saying ridiculous things like, “Truth has no temperature.” One character speaking this

way is a character attribute. Every character doing it makes it feel very bloated and ridiculous. In one

scene in particular, it is obvious the actors involved had trouble with the pretentious lines of dialogue.

This movie would be better served without them.

Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem turned in performances that made me love them all over again. Pitt’s

character is a philosophical middle man, who knows that one day his luck will run out. I found myself

cheering more for him throughout the movie than I ever did for the main character. Bardem turned in

my favorite performance he’s ever given, including his heavily nominated turn as Anton Chigurh in No

Country For Old Men. He is the one character truly believable reciting Cormac’s dialogue.

My biggest complaint with the movie is the fact that the main character doesn’t have a name or a

backstory. He is simply “The Counselor.” When he walks into a room, everyone calls him “Counselor,”

even people he has known for years. It is extremely hard to care that terrible, terrible things are

happening to someone, when there is no sympathy built for the main character. No one cares what

happens to him, because the audience cannot identify with him.

Even with little to no character development, a hard to follow plot, and one of the most unbelievable

sex scenes I’ve ever seen on the big screen, this movie is still really fun to watch play out. The deaths

people suffer are interesting, even if sometimes too foreshadowed. After the first five minutes, the

pacing is fabulous. The jokes are actually funny and do not feel out of place in this dark movie. I just

can’t help but think this would have worked a lot better as a novel than as a movie. I’ve always been a

big fan of Cormac McCarthy’s novels, but his first attempt at a screenplay leaves much to be desired.

2 out 5