The Counselor

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counselor USEThe Cormac McCarthy novel No Country For Old Men gave the Coen brothers a tasty but overrated film. Now McCarthy’s first original screenplay, brought the bad villain from No Country (Javier Bardem), who plays a rich, eccentric drug dealer with another bad hair cut…and a bad wardrobe to match.

For reasons that remain vague (as did everything in this dopey movie), he needs a lawyer (Michael Fassbender, who they call “the counselor” about 800 times). He doesn’t need the lawyer to get him out of legal jams, but wants Fassbender to be part of a big drug shipment. He seems hell-bent on doing it, because he’s in a bind financially. Yet that doesn’t explain how he has the money to put down for the big drug shipment, or why he needs money upfront. We also never hear the back story about what kind of jam he is in. Now, in Michael Clayton, they eventually lead up to why Clayton, also an attorney, needed money. He had a bar that flopped and a gambling problem. In this, we get nothing. My friend even leaned in and asked how he had the money to fly to Amsterdam and buy a 3.5 karat diamond ring. You also never really realize why Bardem, Brad Pitt, and the rest of the drug dealers would even bother with him. They have their own money. Why bring in another person? This is like the Amway of drug dealers, and they all get a cut of his profits for bringing him in.

The opening scene of the movie is indicative of all scenes that follow. Fassbender is in bed with Penelope Cruz. At this point, I think it’s in Fassbender’s contract to have sex scenes in each film.

Oh, but back to that opening scene. So beautifully shot, with them being playful, sexual, and the white sheets framing the couple nicely. When Cruz asks Fassbender how he got so good at one of the things he’s doing, he lifts his head up and says “I’ve dated a lot of nasty girls.”

She giggles.

Huh? Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but…is that what a woman wants to hear at that moment? Yet throughout this film, you have characters that say things that just aren’t interesting. Bardem has one interesting bit of dialog when he talks about having sex on a golf course with Cameron Diaz. It involves the hood of his yellow Ferrari, and it’ll make you forget all about Tawny Kitaen and the Jaguar hood in the Whitesnake video.

counselor TAWNY

Former El Cajon resident Tawny Kitaen, when she was dating the Whitesnake singer.

The more we get to know the Cameron Diaz character, the harder she is to figure out. It’s like they wanted to create this James Bond woman. She has the leopard spot tattoos covering her body. She has a pair of cheetahs that are pets. Everyone says she’s the smartest person in the room, and at one point, she starts giving the girl with the dragon tattoo a run for her money (in both her sexuality and computer savvy).

Brad Pitt is playing a middleman that seems like the exact same character he played in Killing Them Softly. Like everyone else, he calls the guy Counselor and advises him not to get involved in the deal. Later in the movie, we hear from Pitt and wonder why. I won’t spoil anything, but…Pitt’s character would’ve just disappeared at that point, not stuck around the way he did.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few interesting scenes. One guy setting up a trap for a motorcycle rider that’s always carrying cash, or Rosie Perez as a prisoner that the counselor is helping out. She appreciates his smart-ass attitude, and it was cleverly written.

The entire movie is a disjointed mess. It’s almost like they compiled scenes they thought were so well-written, and just threw them all together.

Sewage trucks that could have the drugs hidden inside, a lavish party with lots of fancy cars and women in bikinis, a nightclub being built…

I just mentioned in a review a few weeks ago, about how eccentric criminals and bizarre characters work in Coen brothers movies because there are regular people that surround them. This movie is yet another example of why just having a bunch of crazy people doing crazy stuff, just doesn’t work. We needed a few police officers or store clerks that did regular things.

They did have a regular guy in a truck drive up to a murder scene, and it was a blast. Yet, it also looked like it was lifted right out of Fargo.

The movie also had pet peeve #19. There were at least five different company vehicles (taxis, 18-wheelers) that had a “555” phone number. Stop doing that! It takes us out of the picture, and a company vehicle doesn’t even need a phone number on the side.

This movie gets 1 ½ stars out of 5 because of cinematographer Dariusz Wolsk (Prometheus).

You’ll also stay interested the whole time you watch it, but as you’re leaving the theatre and days later, you’ll hate the movie as you try piecing all the garbage together.

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