We can't look away from The Counselor
Starring Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Cameron Diaz. Rated 14A. Now playing
Well, Cameron Diaz fucks a Ferrari, so there’s that. “You see a thing like that, it changes you,” says Reiner, the El Paso crime kingpin extravagantly played by Javier Bardem and his hair in The Counselor. We’d put this in the category of oversharing, but even more distracting is when Reiner starts describing a mechanized noose that the Mexican drug cartels are keen for lately. Don’t worry: as it tightens, it will probably slice a carotid artery—the ones that spray so untidily—before it pops off your head. Feel free to also use this as a metaphor for the movie.
This is the first original screenplay by bossdog-of-bad-deeds novelist Cormac McCarthy, and the unkind, slick, dirty, plenty-o’-carnage result is a bit like the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men (from McCarthy’s novel, of course), except it’s more No Country for Anyone. At the centre is the unnamed titular lawyer (Michael Fassbender), rabidly in love (with Penélope Cruz, naturally), but with money troubles that pull him aboard dangerous drug dealings with Bardem’s carelessly wealthy Reiner. Counselor, don’t say you weren’t warned.
For a lawyer, the Counselor gets a damn lot of advice. In McCarthy-land, even drug lords are philosophers—but then, it’s kinda nice to hear words of doom spoken like long, crazy-poet riddles. And doom will come. So sayeth Brad Pitt’s slippery middleman and Diaz’s Malkina, a stealthy huntress of sorts who just may be missing the ol’ morality chip. As dilemmas of conscience inexorably collide with evil, we can’t look away.
As for figuring out the plot (there are holes): just try following a certain septic-tank trunk that wends its way through director Ridley Scott and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski’s beautiful, pitiless world. And never forget: for everything you do, there are consequences.