The Counselor, written by Cormac McCarthy, leaves as many details to the imagination as McCarthy’s award-winning script, The Road. At least most of the characters had names this time.
The counselor, played by Michael Fassbender spends the first several scenes with his girlfriend turned fiancée, Laura, played by Penélope Cruz. Between the cute, “I love you so much” and “Of course I will marry you” scenes between Cruz and Fassbender, are unexplained moments between Malkina (Cameron Diaz), Reiner (Javier Bardem) and their cheetah pets; yes their pet cheetahs.
Fassbender plays a rich lawyer who accidentally, yes accidentally, ends up in the Mexican drug cartel. He is thrown into a world of murder, lone motorcyclists and money.
Again, McCarthy and director, Ridley Scott, make this unrelenting, rated-R thriller too dark for first time drug cartel moviegoers. The movie jumps from character to character, even country and country, until everybody is all roughly connected by the conclusion. Unfortunately by the time a connection is made, the character has already kicked the bucket.
With all of the character interaction, the relationships can be a bit boggling. Do not worry though because if the implied “off-stage” events do not leave a viewer second-guessing who exactly has slept with whom, the overtly sexual remarks that could have come from Ron Burgandy himself will clear any confusion right up.
There are the typical drug smuggling elements including shootouts, car chases, a missing $20 million and even a sewer tank stuffed with more drugs than a kid’s pillowcase with candy on Halloween.
The difference between The counselor and other drug cartel movies like Miami Vice or Scarface is the watchablity factor. The Counselor is just not audience-friendly enough to make a name for itself in the long run.
Fortunately, there is a hero to this confusing plot, and that would be the cold and heartless Diaz. When juxtaposed with Cruz, man-dependent and helpless, Diaz becomes the woman of the hour.
Diaz earns her keep as the greedy, independent woman with a death stare harsh enough to give even Brad Pitt the chills. Oh yeah, Scott decides to throw Pitt into the plot, as if there weren’t enough famous faces in the movie already.
Aside from Diaz’s smooth and dangerous take on an independent woman, one more highlight arises, a moral. Viewers learn that dealing drugs “just this one time,” is not really an option as Pitt explains to the Counselor, but we could have just watched Breaking Bad and figured all of that out on our own.