The Counsellor

WRITTEN BY: Cormac McCarthy
DIRECTED BY: Ridley Scott
STARRING: Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt
RATING: 2 stars

Cormac McCarthy has written some much-loved and respected novels that have been adapted to film, including The Road and No Country for Old Men. This time, he has written an original film script himself. Unfortunately, it seems he forgot he was not writing a novel. The Counsellor is dialogue heavy and the overall film makes little sense at all. The best aspect of The Counsellor was the creative and violent way in which a few characters die throughout the film. While it looks great stylistically – thanks to director Ridley Scott – and the cast is more than impressive, The Counsellor still completely falls apart.

The plot centres around a lawyer, known only as the Counsellor (Michael Fassbender), who involves himself in a drug trafficking deal with a client named Reiner (Javier Bardem) and his associate Westray (Brad Pitt). Reiner is a little wacky and is oddly paired up with his mysterious and sultry girlfriend, Malkina (Cameron Diaz), while Westray remains enigmatic and aloof. The deal the three men concoct collapses when an odd coincidence derails the entire scheme so that it looks like they have betrayed their counterparts. By the time the Counsellor realises he is in way over his head, it is too late to stop the ball rolling. So instead, he does the best he can to flee with his fiance, Laura (Penelope Cruz), before they are captured and murdered over his mistake.

Fassbender gives a solid performance, although it is far from his best work, which probably comes down to the script rather than him. Bardem is as reliable as always and is assisted with his character's quirks that make him more interesting, although Reiner is ultimately lacking in any substantial development. Diaz is an interesting choice to play a femme fatale type of seductress. While she has some good moments, she is not the most convincing actress. Her much talked about "sex with a car" scene is also just ridiculously funny and not at all sexy. Cruz is cute but it is hard to believe that anyone her age could possibly be so naive and innocent. Pitt was the only one who brought any real charisma and light to the film.

The Counsellor was a disappointing film that probably would have worked better as a novel.