'The Counselor' full of ill-advised missteps
There are many signs that “The Counselor” is a ridiculous movie: the pseudo-intellectual philosophy spouted by various characters, including the leader of a Mexican drug cartel; Javier Bardem's fright-wig hair; Cameron Diaz's evil eyeliner. But my favorites are the cheetahs.
Diaz plays a predatory blonde named Malkina who has two cheetahs for pets. She decks them out in fancy collars and loves to watch them chase down and shred jackrabbits in the high desert of El Paso. Her admiring, if somewhat clownish, lover (Bardem) makes drinks and looks on in bemusement.
“The Counselor” comes with expectations: It's directed by Ridley Scott, with an impressive cast, which also includes Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz and Brad Pitt. Novelist Cormac McCarthy wrote the screenplay. If you've ever read his novels — “The Road,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Blood Meridian” — or even seen the films adapted from some of them, then you know to expect blood, violence, greed, nihilism and horrific deaths. What you don't expect is camp. “The Counselor” is more “Wild Things” than “No Country for Old Men,” with which it shares a border-town setting. “The Counselor” treats its material seriously and can't even muster up a bit of smarty-pants Tarantino cleverness or energy.
The film follows the decision of an El Paso criminal defense attorney (Fassbender) to venture into the high-stakes world of drug trafficking. “The Counselor,” as his partners call him, is in financial trouble, although he flies to Amsterdam to buy a diamond for his lady friend Laura (Cruz). So, the Counselor sets out to participate in a drug deal with flashy pal Renier (Bardem). He picks the brain of another acquaintance, Westray (Pitt), who, thankfully, injects a bit of playfulness into the movie.
Just about everything goes wrong in Scott's film, although Fassbender is solid and Bardem and Pitt are amusing. But the script does them no favors and is even harder on the women. Diaz gets the worst assignment as Malkina. She shocks Renier by having sex with his car while he sits stunned in the passenger seat. Renier's description of the event, shown in flashback, is funny, but the sight of Diaz writhing on the windshield doesn't help you share his horror. It just makes you feel sorry for Diaz and everybody else in this silly, affected, self-important movie.
Connie Ogle is a staff writer for The Miami Herald.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Review: A teenage girl’s nightmare realized in ‘It Follows’
- Review: ‘Wild Tales’ sinks its teeth into 6 tales of revenge
- Review: Salt and pepper don’t add up to enough laughs in ‘Get Hard’
- Review: Another E.T. is out of place on Earth in Dreamworks’ ‘Home’
- DVD reviews: ‘Into the Woods,’ ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ and ‘Unbroken’
- DEC grad to release horror movie filmed at Monessen library
- Documentary depicts Aliquippa man’s romantic quest, life with Asperger’s
- ‘Let It Snow’s’ big-name cast filming all over Western Pennsylvania