‘The Counselor’ is one of those stories that your mother warned you about. You know, the one where the main character makes the wrong choice and rues the day he tempted faith. In ‘the Counselor, the story centers around Michael Fassbender who the audience only knows as ‘Counselor’. He is a lawyer who is enticed to enter a shadowy and dangerous world to make some quick cash. His bad decision, results in irreversible consequences.
Legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott and Pulitzer Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy (‘No Country for Old Men’) have come together to put forward a suspenseful story in ‘The Counselor’, starring Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt.
Michael Fassbender is fearless, cool, and charming. He becomes ‘that guy’ that you know so well, the one who miscalculates his intelligence. To his detriment, he thinks he is the smartest one in the room.
Fassbender (‘Prometheus’ and ’12 Years a Slave’) is the type of actor that directors live for. He is a versatile actor who gives himself over to his characters and molds himself into any personality presented before him.
Laura (Penelope Cruz) is The Counselor’s naïve fiancée who finds herself caught up in his madness. Her devotion and love for him leads to dire circumstances. As veteran screenwriters will attest, it is hard to write chemistry between two actors. But, Cruz and Fassbender are believable as a couple. Their characters’ all consuming affection and commitment to one other is the essence of grown up love. The audience feels the heat of their relationship.
And, no one does crazy like Cameron Diaz (Malkina) who portrays one of the most dangerous and darkest characters ever. She is a gifted sociopath without a shred of humanity. Malkina thinks of herself as soul mates with her pet cheetahs (she even has an impressive whole body cheetah print tattoo). She manipulates her prey like a puppet master. She has an obsessive need to dominate and intimidate. This is exhibited in a shocking scene when she makes love to a car windshield. It is an act designed to force her partner Javier Bardem (Reiner) into submission.
Bardem (Cruz’s real life husband) as Reiner is a flashy night club owner who enters into a union with The Counselor to conduct a business deal with some less than lawful members of the Mexican Cartel. For all his warnings that they take heed and that these people do not live by society’s rules, he does not realize the gravity of the situation or that he is also a pawn in this dangerous game.
On the other hand, Brad Pitt (Westray) is the opposite of Malkina. He is a philosophizing and cool intermediary, albeit shady middleman to the cartel. He warns The Counselor about the dangers of the world he has entered. He explains that through all his dealings, he always had an exit plan where he could disappear at a moment’s notice. But, Westray is a womanizer (it is his Achilles’ heel). Despite his willingness to dispense warnings, he does not take his own advice and falls prey to more than one beautiful woman.
‘The Counselor’ is not an easy movie to watch. One has to patience and the attention span of a saint to follow this thriller. It is not for those easily distracted. Filled with various characters, and jaw dropping scenes, it is at times hard to keep up. The audience is taxed with vast details that are doled out in cryptic vocabulary. You must actually listen to the dialogue in order to follow the clues given.
As the movie progresses, you begin to suspect that circumstances are not as random as they seem. Each character’s flaws in their personality lures them into tempting faith and ultimately leading to their demise. The result is a paranoid tale of deceit where the victims do not realize that they are just prey.