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The Counselor (2013)

by The Movie Diorama

The Counsellor pretentiously advises that all actions have consequences. The consequence of watching this heap of mess is that your precious time, patience and intelligence would all be wasted in a two-hour ordeal where literally nothing cohesive occurs. Greed drives us to consequential behaviour. Greed makes us unlikeable. Greed, for a lack of a better word, is actually bad. Forget ‘Wall Street’! This sin leads to loss of life within a few days of manifestation! At least that’s what McCarthy’s pretentious dialogue alludes to, almost Shakespearean in theatrics. Yet somehow, somewhere, in production, Scott’s mechanical directorial vision and McCarthy’s bleak lessons in morality separated themselves like fire and ice. Two polar opposites that had no chance in forming a cohesive feature, marking an almighty low point in both careers.

Much like the film’s narrative, this “review” will be segments of wordy rambles that believe to have some self-importance attached to them (and yes, I did just insult my own work for comedic purposes). Nevertheless, the challenge to analyse this embarrassment has been accepted. After proposing to his girlfriend, a lawyer simply known as “The Counsellor” becomes entangled in a drug deal that rapidly becomes awry. Scott has some of the finest award-winning actors in his arsenal for The Counsellor. Michael Fassbender. Javier Bardem. Penelope Cruz. Brad Pitt. Cameron Diaz. Heck, even Bruno Ganz makes a brief appearance. Yet this exercise proves that no matter how much star power is thrusted into a project, the outcome is solely dependent on the director who provides the vision for audiences.

Scott has been one of the most well-known, acclaimed and popular directors for decades. Tackling a variety of genres with effortless technicalities. So, the fundamental question raised here is: what the hell happened!?

For starters, McCarthy’s screenplay is riddled with existential monologues that attempt to illustrate the human condition. From a man who provides astute gothic South-Western thrillers, I’m astonished to witness how clumsily written this script was. Every choice in life has its outcomes, whether they are good or bad depends on the decision made. Aside from the odorous self-importance that overwhelms Scott’s direction, his screenplay was absent of any structure. The drug deal unfolds without any direct inclusion whatsoever. You couldn’t tell if Diaz rubbing her foo-foo on a car windscreen (more on that later, don’t you worry) has anything to do with the central plot. I still don’t know! Why was that even included?

The point is, the basis of the story relied on scattershot narratives between a bunch of unlikeable characters that no one cared for. Talking about women as if they’re pets. We’re supposed to empathise with the titular “Counsellor”, considering he risks the most and suffers from undeniable loss, but the bleak offset of detestable individuals produced zero emotional impact. Everyone’s rich residing in lavish villas, driving luxury cars and taking pet cheetahs out for a walk. What’s the point? If none of the characters are relatable, then no investment can be made.

We then get to the drug deal itself, plagued with double-crossings and sly exchanges of envelopes brimming with dollar, which seemingly went south pretty quickly. But you wouldn’t have known that without Pitt and Fassbender’s heated conversation, because there had been no focus on the smuggling at all. Supporting characters are introduced in every direction, only to then leave the feature two minutes after their debut. Why? What’s the point? They provided absolutely nothing to the plot, so why not just cut them out entirely and have a tighter story? It all comes down to this overwhelming burden of pretentiousness. This is not the Ridley Scott of ‘Alien’. This is not the Cormac McCarthy of ‘No Country For Old Men’. They are both in way over their heads.

Frustratingly, the cast do give solid performances. Fassbender’s breakdown in the car was magnificently performed. Pitt’s cool swagger effortlessly shown. Bardem’s crazy antics put firmly on display. Then we get to Diaz and that car scene. Did she not learn from dry-humping Timberlake in ‘Bad Teacher’? Well, from what I can only describe as vehicular masturbation, she really did outdo herself. Honestly. It was disgusting. Thank God for my homo genes, that’s all I’m saying!

If there is one thing I hate in entertainment, it’s wasted potential. The Counsellor is a prime example of wasted potential. It’s a film that has no real purpose, no real technical merit, and certainly no solid storytelling. Just a mish-mash of unlikeable characters making bad greedy choices in life. And now I’ve made a bad choice too, by watching this…