Cast: Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz
Director: Ridley Scott
Over a year has passed since Prometheus was released and, to this day, a few heated arguments and expressions of disdain can still be found within the blogosphere. Ridley Scott has received a lot of flak, mostly undeserving because the Alien mythology is his creation to do as he pleases; not to mention the innumerable viewings all of us have experienced with at least the first two films of the series. That all being written, Scott has certainly returned to form with his latest grisly drama, The Counselor.
Armed with an original screenplay written by legendary writer Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, The Road, Child of God) the grit, dire, and desolation typically associated with his books is well represented. Coupled with Scott’s masterful take on sweeping landscapes with highly stylized action, The Counselor doesn’t become just a film but a modern take on a costly morality tale.
In usual McCarthy fashion, each character is flawed in their respective ways, hovering within the low end of the moral spectrum. Greedy, distrustful, and devoid of empathy, they’re cogs in a great machine that no one dares to upset, given the potential repercussions.
There’s a reason Michael Fassbender is the one of the “it” guys in Hollywood, and The Counselor is the perfect vehicle to showcase the gamut of his talent. Ambitious, cunning, and overly confident, The Counselor has witnessed from afar the lavish lifestyles of his clients, their veneer of comfort and privilege. What he quickly learns is achieving that quality of life is more precarious and lethal than expected.
Those already in the trafficking business like Reiner (Javier Bardem) and Westray (Brad Pitt) are quite aware of the costs their chosen profession has taken on their lives. With all the money they’d ever need, the ability to acquire all money can buy… what good is it if at any moment they may suffer a hollow death because of a mere slight? Their persistent warnings fall on the deaf ears of The Counselor, whose only desire is to create a comfortable life for himself and his fiance Laura (Penelope Cruz). This is further expounded upon by Jefe (Ruben Blades) who provides The Counselor with an insight and pragmatic exposition only a high level cartel member can provide.
Going by the billing, one would assume Cameron Diaz would be the weak link in the production yet an argument can be made that, however seldom seen, Diaz has range and can provide a conviction to her character. From the start, Malkina gives the air of being a heartless sociopath whose avarice is as great as her lack of regard for others. To portray such a creature is no easy task, no matter the caliber of actor. Diaz’s character will certainly be memorable for her calculating, callous nature. It may appear that she isn’t doing much within a scene, but she ‘reads’ everyone within the room, forever compelled to be two steps ahead of everyone. She’ll most likely be remembered for a singular scene which demonstrate her capacity to do whatever it takes to get whatever she wants. Also, be prepared to never look at the windshield the same way ever again.
In a year that featured a disproportionate amount of underwhelming features, The Counselor is a compelling thriller charged with a fierce tension that’ll make you wince at the deadly trappings presented in all their excessively graphic glory. It’s been a while since Ridley Scott has pulled no punches; The Counselor is more than enough colorful stimulation in this post-Breaking Bad world.
You can purchase tickets to see The Counselor via Fandango below.