I was not going to review director Ridley Scott’s new movie THE COUNSELOR, because of my aversion to Pulitzer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy’s pretentious dialogue in this, his screenwriting debut. But I changed my mind because I yearned to write a “cautionary” review. I listened to what was fumblingly coming out of the mouths of actors I respected in this “morality” tale and felt patronized. Short pithy philosophical thoughts were floating from their tongues, hovering in the air lifeless before falling ineffectively to the ground.
The film opens with the lovely Penelope Cruz under tousled white sheets making love to Michael Fassbender – the Counselor – who is never called by any other name. The erotically charged love scene quickly collapses under the weight of their asinine conversation, a forecast of what I will have to sit through for the next 2+ hours. Next the camera quickly cuts to the “dark” side of Mexico, where high-stakes drug deals are under way, and then we jump to Amsterdam, Columbia, Chicago, and continue hurtling back and forth to various sites on the Tex-Mex border.
Our Counselor – a avaricious newbie at the drug game - is about to do a deal with some “bad” boys –a strange Javier Bardem with an even more bizarre hairdo, and Brad Pitt, a mysterious man who is at ease with the under-world and seems to smoothly snake his way through it, unscathed and a step ahead of calamity. For me the star of this den of reptiles is Cameron Diaz who I found fascinating as the cold, shrewd, wildly evil and often mesmerizing mistress of Bardem, Diaz, is often guarded by two muscular and sleek Cheetahs (who are tamer than their master,) appreciatively observing them hunt innocent prey. She is the best part of this movie –a carnal and hard beauty with tattoos of Big Cats’ paw-prints adorning her body.
Suffice it to say the deal goes bad and the Counselor is in a dangerous dilemma. Having been apprised by his “partners” (part of the metaphysical drivel) as to the capriciousness of doing business where there are no guarantees – all of the warnings come to fruition. What I found most ineffectual about THE COUNSELOR was the attempt by Scott and McCarthy to make a weak character the archetype for greed and arrogance in a “game” against seasoned predators. I did not care about The Counselor at all – he was whiny, vain and as shallow and lightweight as the stream of conversations we the audience had to endure.