‘The Counselor’ — A Full Review

20131025-103515.jpgWhen you eliminate the back-story behind your characters, you also eliminate my investment in their journey. The lines between the good guys and the bad guys become blurred, and the performances suddenly become irrelevant. It’s a shame too, because this film was certainly saturated with powerful performances.

Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men), The Counselor follows a lawyer (Michael Fassbender) who, in a bid for big bucks, engages in a drug deal with the very shady Reiner (Javier Barden) and Westray (Brad Pitt). Things predictably go awry, and some very dark drama ensues.

Though I’d call this a visually artistic masterpiece, that’s not enough to rescue it. In film school, there’s a cardinal rule that every scene in a movie should propel the plot forward. I thought of that while watching The Counselor, and then quickly realized that there’s no plot to propel. There’s no indication about why Fassbender’s character chose to engage in this drug deal, and because his cronies are also vapid villains, there’s also no suspense associated with their safety. Do I care about the life of a seemingly evil group of people who I know nothing about? Does it matter if their lives are destroyed? The only saving grace is Penelope Cruz’s character, but much like the others, I found myself judging a woman who would be with such a creepy guy without any suspicion.


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