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2.8 out of 5 stars
The Counsellor [DVD]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Michael Fassbender stars in the title role as a lawyer, who as far as I could tell his name was Counselor. He becomes engaged to Lara (Penélope Cruz) who is as pretty as she is naive. Reiner (Javier Bardem) is a rich friend who claims "Women are an expensive hobby." His girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz) is extremely high maintenance and out of everyone's league. Counselor has a chance to make some big money when he meets a smooth talking, mutual friend, middle man Westray (Brad Pitt) who arranges for Counselor to finance a drug deal. Seems the biggest problem is going to be how to hide the money. Then in the blink of an eye, things go so wrong as now Counselor and Westray try not to star in a Latino snuff film.

The production spends most of the time building up characters with smart dialogue. When the twist happens, this changes the film from a clever drama into an action crime drama that needed better action and to last longer. The film seemed to go down hill at the very moment it should have rocketed. It is a well acted film which I enjoyed mostly for the build up. It just didn't bring it home like it should, clearly a weak screen play adaptation.

Worth a view as a rental.

Parental Guide: F-bomb. Sex. No nudity (Cameron Diaz side breast)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I'm probably like many other people---I saw the dvd jacket cover showing excellent actors such as Pitt,Fassbender,Cruz,Diaz and the superb Javier Bardem all starring in this film.

Cormac McCarthy wrote the screenplay and Ridley Scott directed.What could go wrong? So I bought the dvd in a local boot-sale last week.

What a BIG mistake! This just didn't work for me.It is neither a coherent drama or a thriller(even a weak one).

I think most of the budget was spent on the actors and crew, and very little thought and care given to the purpose of most productions which is to ENTERTAIN.

So this turned into a mishmash---it is neither a high quality dialogue driven play or a thriller with suspense and action.It doesn't have an abundance of anything that I would call entertaining.
A huge disappointment for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2015
Credit where credit is due -- if you are going to act in a farce (I'm referring to the genre), then you must never, even at the silliest moments, seem to be tipping off your audience that you're aware that you're in a certain kind of play. The humor depends on the actors seeming to be dead serious, even when, to the audience, the events on stage are at their silliest or most outrageous. So the actors in "The Counselor" deserve a lot of credit. They play it dead straight. So, you might ask -- are you saying that this movie is, generically, a farce? I am saying that, for if it isn't, it's a total mess. But there's reason to think that Cormac McCarthy, who wrote the screenplay, and the director Ridley Scott knew exactly what they were doing. Any screenplay for what looks like a "thriller" that alludes to the death of Socrates and Christopher Marlowe's "The Jew of Malta" (and probably some other things I've missed) obviously has something going on, and the nearest analogue I can find to the kind of drama this is is the hyper-sensationalized early 17th-Century morality plays that used to be referred to as "Jacobean Tragedy" and that were associated with names like Cyril Tourneur and John Webster. Marlowe's "Jew of Malta" might be thought of as a kind of prototype of such drama, and elements of it can be found in Shakespeare's tragedies -- obviously in "Titus Andronicus," and maybe less obviously in "King Lear" and "Macbeth." The 17 Century critic Thomas Rhymer referred to "Othello" as "a bloody farce," and that's not a bad description of "The Counselor" too, as long as we remember that heavy-handed moralism goes along with it.

The mixture of power, greed, and sex, along with characters who think they can control events after having made some very sketchy decisions -- it's all there, just as it was in the Jacobean predecessors. You might be tempted to think of it as a kind of "film noir," because there is in this film also a sense of its characters becoming more and more entrapped, the atmosphere becoming more claustrophobic. But in a "noir," entrapment and claustrophobia are expressed through visual style. Here the visual style is much more realist, and it's in the dialogue that the sense of entrapment and ever-more-limited choices comes across. It does so because the characters talk all the time about choices and consequences. Westray (Brad Pitt) advises the counselor (Michael Fassbender) not to get "in" to the drug deal that Reiner (Javier Bardem) is involved with. Even Reiner is cautioning the counselor -- don't get in. But the counselor (who, for reasons that aren't explicit, needs money) thinks he CAN get in, just this once, pick up his share of $20 million, and get out again. It's not accidental that people lose their heads in this movie -- for when greed, power, and sex get to work, clear thinking goes out the window, so losing one's head seems an apt trope, all things considered.

Once you're in, getting out is difficult, especially when, to bring off the deal, you have to run afoul of "the cartel." Let's just say that the Borgias, as popularly imagined, have nothing on the cartel. Of the characters who are willing to take their chances, only the coolest can have a chance at success. In this case, that's Marika (Cameron Diaz), and it helps that she lacks a soul and is willing to do whatever it takes with her body. At the end of the movie, she's still on the playing field, so to speak, though whether she will ultimately prevail is an open question. Suffice it to say here that thieves have fallen out, and some of the mayhem in the movie derives from that fact and not just the cartel. But what might strike you most about the movie -- and all the characters are unlikeable -- is the talk. Everybody's a kind of pseudo-philosopher, and on and on they go about choices, consequences, freedom, guilt, weaknesses. In case you don't get the point, think about the scene in which Cameron Diaz tries to get a priest to listen to her confession. It's rare to find such hyper-articulateness yoked to a modern "thriller" plot, and it's one of the features that clues the audience to the kind of farce that this is. I think that the movie is exactly what Scott and McCarthy had in mind, and clearly a bunch of very talented actors are all on board. One could even say that it's very good of its kind -- but I don't much like the kind. I haven't been tempted to re-read "The White Devil" or "The Revenger's Tragedy," and I doubt that I'll be revisiting this -- although there is that scene of Cameron Diaz having sex with an expensive car . . .
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
“Life is not going to take you back. You are the world you have created. And when you cease to exist, this world that you have created will also cease to exist.”

The Counselor is one of those films where it’s easy to see why it attracted such an impressive cast - everybody gets at least one good scene and some great metaphorical dialogue - but leaves you wondering why no-one seemed to notice it’s considerably less than the sum of its parts. It’s more a series of conversations about the philosophy of crime and the morality of those even peripherally involved in drug running than a thriller, but the story remains elusive and there’s no real momentum or mounting dread as Michael Fassbender’s lawyer who’s involved in a one-off drug deal with Javier Bardem’s flamboyant dealer and Brad Pitt’s middle man finds he’s increasingly out of his depth as things inevitably go wrong. Focussing primarily on the facilitators and intermediaries, the nature of the deal is deliberately vague lest it get in the way of the purple prose, some of which is good but perhaps too much feels like it’s simply taking the film off on tangents. By the last third after the bodies start multiplying and heads literally roll courtesy of the unseen and omnipotent cartel while any interest the film promised curiously threatens to diminish, things moves into metaphysical territory in a lengthy phone conversation with Rueben Blades that is probably the best scene in the film before Fassbender ends up in Graham Greeneland having to accept that there’s no forgiveness, redemption or salvation in the future he has written himself. Inbetween, Cameron Diaz’s cheetah loving femme fatale (“Are you really that cold? “Truth has no temperature”) depletes the supporting cast to increase her bank account when she’s not monologueing or having sex with Bardem’s car. Yes, you did read that right.

The second disc of the Blu-ray release contains the better paced extended version of the film, running an additional 20 minutes, though aside from the film’s second decapitation being graphically extended most of the additions are either more philosophising or add nothing to the plot. Much more interesting is the lengthy (216-minutes) interactive documentary and commentary accessed by seamless branching. The first disc contains the 117-minute theatrical version with three viral shorts promoting the film and ten TV spots and three trailers offering far too many hostages to fortune by building themselves around lines like “How bad is it?” “Let’s say pretty bad. And then multiply it by ten” and “Bad is bad” or offering the promise of a bloodbath by strategic use of the film’s last line (not to mention showing up the copywriter‘s limited vocabulary by describing Cormac McCarthy as ‘The writer of the book No Country For Old Men’).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 May 2015
The Counsellor is a terrible film, but when you see the many film stars on the front cover, plus the name Ridley Scott who is a awesome director, but what a huge let-down this film was completely awful, I have never been so bored in my life watching all these great actors. To tell you the truth I needed my own counsellor after this crap.
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on 18 July 2015
This is a slow burner of a film. If you want action, cgi and mindless entertainment this is not for you. If on the other hand you want good plot, brilliant acting and a story that not only makes you listen, think and above all thank god you are not in this world then this is for you. Unfairly slated by poncy critics and people reared on mindless so called entertainment i think time will look back on this favourably. Remember how Blade runner was panned on initial release, the same will happen here. I loved the dialogue, the characters and the sense of dread and doom that the second half of the film lead you into.The cast are all excellent but special mention must go to javier bardem and in particular brad pitt for his arrogant, i know exactly what i,m doing performance. A dark adult film, not for many i agree but i for one loved it and urge anyone who enjoys not being treated like an idiot to savour and enjoy.
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on 13 March 2015
A curious concoction featuring the biggest of big name actors and creative talent. I'm not certain that it is a film worth reading too much into, recounting what is a fairly typical story set in the gruesome world of drug trafficking through the use of very elaborate dialogue and slow-paced drama, but it offers an experience unlike anything I have encountered in American cinema. It certainly doesn't feel the need to talk down to the audience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2014
A different take on things, a bit out there but a great watch at a time of formatted and safe movie making. YMMV.
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on 13 April 2015
Great named cast tends to get lost in where the movie is going at times. Basically the usual tale of drug dealing gone wrong and soon the body count starts to mount up etc, etc. Well played though and some nice little sinister twists as you would expect when drug cartels want to make an example of people. To be fair the tension is sustained well and nice to see Cameron Diaz in a dark role.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2014
WTF? How can a film that promises so much be SO bad? You will not give a cr*p about any of the 'characters' in this film at any point, and the cringeworthy dialogue (reminiscent of something an over-eager film student could have penned) will make you want to hide behind the sofa.

Don't waste your time by bothering to watch until the end (or, preferably, at all). It's downhill all the way, and will leave you feeling disappointed, cheated and annoyed with yourself for sticking it out. There are better things to do, like unblocking that drain you've been meaning to clear for months, or picking up dog poo off the pavement (even if you don't have a dog).

Why? Just why? There's nothing else to say, really.
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