Monday, October 28, 2013

The Counselor (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about Ridley Scott's "The Counselor" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.



 How is it possible that such great actors made such a boring movie?
“The Counselor” is Ridley Scott’s latest film based on a Cormac Mccarthy script, starring Michael Fassbender as a lawyer looking to make one big score and the consequences of that decision in his life and those around him. Those around him include Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, and Brad Pitt as various associates in his world as it spirals out of control. Speaking of spiraling out of control this movie does just that. Now I should say, it’s not all bad.
Most of the leads (with one exception, which we will get to in a bit) perform very well, especially Pitt, whose smart alec street savvy angle player added a little bit of joy to an otherwise dreary proceeding. But the best thing is probably the deep thematic interplay of sin and consequence. The movie definitely had a point of view about how bad choices lead to death and destruction and it communicated it vividly. Actually, maybe even a bit too vividly.
The desire here almost seemed to be to shove our faces in this depravity and it just seemed unnecessary. I don’t know, I just think we could have understood the destructive spiral of this life without the graphic sexuality and violence. At some point that stuff becomes a distraction and does more to hinder your story than to move it forward, especially considering this movie already had a difficult time with moving forward anyway. In fact, I’d say that’s the worst thing. It’s really bloated. There are several scenes in this movie that go on about 5 minutes too long, including a scene where an engagement ring is bought and we spend 10 minutes going over cut, clarity, and color. Yes, I understand there was metaphorical subtext here, but that stuff was covered in 30 seconds, just move on. This is exacerbated by a strange performance by Javier Bardem that I couldn’t decide if it was amazing or awful. I eventually went with awful primarily because I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. Plus the ending is pretentious, confusing, and ultimately unsatisfying. And I didn’t even mention the whole thing is a rip off of Breaking Bad. New Mexico Family man, turns to drug sales to make money only to see his world crumble? Really?, you didn’t think we’d notice? I mean Hank even shows up at the end. Come on! (Note to the humorless, I know this wasn’t really a rip on Breaking Bad, but when you think about it, the similarities are startling no?)
At the end of the day “The Counselor” is a failed movie. Despite some decent performances and deep themes the whole affair is too slow and unnecessarily depraved to warrant anything higher than a C-.
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