Stellar cast. A-list director. Top notch story? Not so much.
Such is the case of The Counselor, a thriller (opening Friday, Oct. 25) meant to keep movie fans on the edge of their seats, but instead only induces consistent time watching on cell phones (provided the theater allows them).
That it includes the likes of Javier Bardem, Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz, actors who have all either been nominated for Oscars or Golden Globes, should immediately give it appeal.
That it comes from one of the most consistent directors to work in film the past four decades should give it credibility.
Instead it’s a long slog through boredom as anyone with a brain will sit in the audience and wonder how so many people can be so absolutely naïve in one film. It hurts to think about it.
We’re introduced to The Counselor (Fassbender) and his shady partner Reiner (Bardem) as they’re talking over an even shadier “business deal.”
Each also has to contend with women issues as Reiner’s playing around with Malkina (Diaz) and The Counselor, a lawyer, wants to marry Laura (Cruz), and offers an engagement ring. For Reiner, the deal is a way to keep Malkina. As for The Counselor, he wants to set up their future.
The deal? A mega drug transaction with the ruthless Mexican cartel. It’s a one-time thing, so that way the audience immediately knows something is going to go horribly awry.
The deal gets set up through Westray (Brad Pitt), a veteran of such deals that warns the rookie that he might want to reconsider.
Of course, he doesn’t and sure enough, as the story progresses, things go bad in ways that have to be seen to be believed and in ways that are obvious that the main characters never see coming for some inexplicable reason.
Ultimately, The Counselor, Reiner and Westray find themselves being hunted by the cartel, a leave-no-witnesses kind of operation.
Written by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men), The Counselor proves convoluted, but yet wholly predictable in how it unfolds. The audience sees things coming down the pike, but the characters never do. McCarthy’s script doesn’t foreshadow as much as it knocks you over the head with upcoming plot points.
Scott, a director who consistently belongs on the A-list, can’t rescue the material. He gives it a funky, other worldly vibe, but the story lacks tension and punch.
He coaxes the necessary performances from his cast, but they go wasted in a film that will likely vanish quickly from theaters.
In other words: a possible lucrative streaming future awaits The Counselor on assorted streaming services.
Movie: The Counselor
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rated: R for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language.
Running time: 117 minutes
George’s rating: 2.5-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com