Starring Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt and Penelope Cruz
When it was announced that Pulitzer Prize winning author, Cormac McCarthy (THE ROAD), was writing his first feature screenplay, I, like many others, was very excited. After all, he has written so many great novels, many which have been adapted into great films (including Oscar winner, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN), so how could he screw up a film of his own? The answer? Apparently, quite easily.
THE COUNSELOR follows Michael Fassbender as a man only addressed as “Counselor”, a greedy man who, to pay off some debts, gets involved in a drug deal with a Mexican cartel. The cast is littered with many well known actors including Penelope Cruz, who plays Counselor’s beautiful but naïve fiancée, Laura. Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt portray Reiner and Westray, two of Counselor’s acquaintances involved in the drug deal. Cameron Diaz rounds out the cast as Reiner’s girlfriend Malkina, who decides to ruin the entire plan.
There’s nothing wrong with the cast here, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with Ridley Scott’s direction. The film looks great and, for the most part, the acting is pretty solid. The real problem with the film is McCarthy’s script. The screenplay is packed with dialogue that is always striving for some kind of deeper meaning. It is also painfully obvious that no one on the entire planet talks the way these characters do. There are a few wonderfully written, fun scenes, including one where Cameron Diaz’s character has sex with a Ferrari. (Yes, you read that correctly.) But for much of the film there is far too much dialogue that doesn’t help to move the story forward. At times, the film is reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s SAVAGES, both films being visually appealing but at the same time a complete mess. At least Stone’s film didn’t take itself so seriously though.
THE COUNSELOR does pick up a bit towards the end, where the unnerving dialogue is toned down a bit and we are treated to some very interesting death scenes, but by then it is too little too late. I didn’t think I would have to say this but it seems to me that McCarthy should just stick with the books.