Movie Review: ‘The Counselor’


Nick Hamden [email protected]

“The Counselor” achieved a 2/5 by Iowa State Daily movie reviewer Nick Hamden.

Nick Hamden

The initial trailers for “The Counselor” quickly caught my eye, but one thing really bugged me: I had no idea what the movie was about. It looked like some combination of drugs, sex, high life living and death, I guess.

In fact, if the trailer was just a tad bit more artsy, I would compare it ahead of time to the very strange “Killing Them Softly,” but from the trailer it looks like it might just be another “Savages.”

Unfortunately, I was wrong. It was worse than both of them.

It turns out that this movie is indeed about drugs, sex, high life living and death. I guess the trailer told me all I really had to know, for once. 

The main character goes by Counselor (Michael Fassbender), so try not to get confused. He is a lawyer, a decent one, but lawyering doesn’t pay the bills — not if he wants an extravagant lady like Laura (Penelope Cruz) in his life.

So he dabbles in the drug trade a bit, doing some smaller deals to get extra funds. His hook up for these trades is Reiner (Javier Bardem), who loves to show off his wealth and possessions. He is currently with Malkina (Cameron Diaz), a sex crazed woman, who owns two pet cheetahs.

Well, the Counselor decides he is only going to do one more deal, a much bigger deal than normal, worth over $20 million. He wants to marry Laura, so he wont be able to keep up his secret lifestyle. But when has “one last job” ever worked out for anyone? 

Brad Pitt has a small role in this as well, as Westray, a middleman between Counselor and the drug kingpins.

The actors in this movie are all fantastic professionals at their craft. Thankfully, they all act wonderfully in this film, and I will not think less of them because of their roles.

No, this mess of a film has to be blamed on Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy. Strong words, I know. Scott is a fantastic director, but this movie is nowhere close to his finest work. McCarthy is a great writer, and most of the films based on his novels have been excellent, but this is his first time writing a screenplay. Somehow, the two of them managed to mess up a great thing and produce a film that feels like a waste of time and talent.

What is wrong with the movie? Basically everything. The editing, the plot, the dialogue and the resolution.

I only cared about one character, Laura, and that was because she was too naive to realize what she was getting in to, or she chose to ignore it all. Yeah, the rest of the cast members are all immoral people, but many movies have made me at least hate those bad characters and want them to face justice in some way. In this movie, I did not care if they get out alive or not. The development did not give me any reason to care. 

My biggest problem with this film is that it did not end up making a lot of sense. The plot has holes everywhere and the only major scenes only happen due to coincidence. Things go badly for this drug deal, but because the movie did not explain a lot of important details, it took me awhile to realize that any of the characters were actually in danger. In a movie about drug deals gone bad, you should be able to realize when the deal has officially gone bad (and that the deal has even started).

“The Counselor” will not tarnish the good names of Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy any time soon. No, this film will instead be swept under the rug quietly in a few weeks and be promptly ignored.