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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

The Counsellor review

The Counselor red light Brad Pitt Michael Fassbender

Almost, but not quite, hilariously demented — if accidentally so — drama about sex and death, and why not to get involved with drug cartels.
I’m “biast” (pro): mostly like Ridley Scott; mostly love the cast

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

No one talks, in The Counsellor, the way that real people talk. Everyone — including one-scene cafe owners in Mexico and random priests in confession boxes — declaims at one another. Every line — and I do mean every line — of dialogue in this hilariously, if accidentally, demented movie is like this: “You will eventually come to a moral decision that will take you by surprise.” “I never knew my parents. They were thrown out of a helicopter into the Atlantic when I was three.” There’s a lot of philosophizing about sex, mostly about how scary and mysterious women are, and death, mostly about how it can teach one a lesson about something one really shouldn’t need a lesson about, like not to upset Mexican drug lords. No one merely steals a thing when they can arrange for a mysterious beheading in order to get their hands on an object. Perhaps the most ridiculous aspect here is that screenwriter Cormac McCarthy (The Road) and director Ridley Scott (Prometheus) clearly don’t want us to know the details of the deal that a good-guy lawyer (Michael Fassbender: Shame) does with a cartel rep (Javier Bardem: Skyfall), even when the deal goes bad; those aren’t as important as the would-be profound expounding on snuff films and coincidence. Those details we don’t need to know; we do need to appreciate that while men can be all sorts of nuanced, women are either Freakishly Bad (Cameron Diaz: In a World…) or Saintly Good (Penelope Cruz: I’m So Excited!). We do need to know that the worst thing that can happen, ever, is for a man to know that the woman he loves is dead. Worse than death is for her, even. Did I say demented? I meant disgusting.

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The Counselor (2013)
US/Can release: Oct 25 2013
UK/Ire release: Nov 15 2013

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated DDD: don’t do drugs
MPAA: rated R for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language
BBFC: rated 18 (contains strong bloody violence)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    Are there still people out there who need to be told that getting into bed with drug dealers is a bad idea? I suppose there must be.

  • Just occurred to me that that “I never knew my parents” line sounds like something Doctor Evil would have said.

  • Matt Clayton

    That scene with Cameron Diaz fucking the car (with Javier Bardem watching) is so out-there and ridiculous — it’s like a scene cut in from an entirely different movie. And hilarious for all the wrong reasons.

  • Danielm80

    The really odd thing is that, at the beginning of the film, every character the Counselor talks to tells him it’s a bad idea. They tell him in really precise detail all the awful things that are going to happen if he goes through with the deal. And then, point by point, each of those things happens exactly as it was described. It feels like a shaggy dog joke, only no one but Cormac McCarthy will think it’s funny.

  • Catfish.


  • Scott Needs To Be Free

    I concur with this review. I went to see this on Ridley’s credibility alone. Mistake. Went home feeling farted on and nauseated. Seriously – to think that I have developed tolerance for Breaking Bad and Dexter. To think that I could stomach Tarantino and Game of Throne. I should’ve checked who wrote it – I hated No Country for Old Man – which also left me sick and nauseated. I read The Road review on Amazon.com, and decided to stay 10 miles from the stinky mind of this grumpy old man. Looks like his stinky brain content made its way into my life. Ridley please don’t waste your epic talent on this kind of over-rated writers. Bottom-feeding fish, fermenting corpse and Garbage Dumps is the foul stuff Cormac is made of. Not Ridley. Mistake, Ridley, to lend your name to this piece of stinking crap.

  • daph

    I thought the exact same thing about the female characters!! Good to know someone else noticed that too.

  • Joe Schmoe


  • Joe Schmoe

    The one good realistic part of the movie was the shootout scene on the road between the sewage truck people and the cartel gunmen posing as cops. Superior firepower triumphed for once. Usually a guy with just a pistol always takes out the bad guy with the submachine guns

  • Someone132

    And then they had to ruin it by having the cartel guy be totally fine and even walking after he got a bullet in the leg, instead of, you know, bleeding out on the tarmac with no-one else left to help him.

  • Joe Schmoe

    Even if the wound was non fatal, the shock and the pain would have been enough to render him immobile

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