The Counselor Blu-ray Review
When Cormac McCarthy first announced he was writing his first original screenplay, Hollywood went crazy trying to get a piece of it. A-list directors lined up to have the honor of directing the film and A-list actors and actresses were pulling every string they had to be a part of the movie. So it’s ironic that the reason everyone was excited is the exact reason the movie is an epic failure. The direction was fine, the acting was top notch, but the script was embarrassingly bad.
The focus of the film is on a man known as Counselor, played very well by Michael Fassbender. We don’t know much about Counselor, only that he’s rich (he drives a Bentley) and that he’s getting involved with a drug deal. But right away, we have some problems. We never have any idea how he’s involved or what responsibility he has in the deal. We presume he’s a middleman of sorts, since he elicits advice from Westray (Brad Pitt), who is also a middleman. But again, we don’t know what the Counselor is getting into or what risks he might face because we don’t really know how he’s involved. As it turns out, an unfortunate series of coincidences somehow convince the cartel that the Counselor has robbed them and the last half of the movie is focused on the Counselor, Westray and Reiner (Javier Bardem) dealing with the cartel’s punishment. To be clear, none of them are fighting back or even trying to escape, they’re just waiting around for whatever punishment the cartel deems appropriate.
If the problems stopped there, it wouldn’t be so bad, but then we have to contend with a host of other script related issues. We don’t ever know how everyone fits into place and the characters we’re following are extremely unlikeable, so it’s impossible to ever care about what happens. But that wouldn’t matter too much if the story made sense and flowed efficiently. Of course, it does not as plot points move along without much explanation or reasoning. So if we don’t understand how the Counselor ended up in a sleazy hotel room in Mexico, how can we ever care about what he’s doing? That’s just one example, but virtually every plot progression has similar holes and questions.
Maybe the most glaring problem is the character of Malkina (Cameron Diaz), who is the girlfriend of Reiner. Every word spoken out her mouth is cringe-worthy. I’m not Diaz’s biggest fan, but I can’t blame her for this one, she didn’t have anything to work with and her character was comically villainous to the point it was humorous (and I’m not even referring to her having sex with a car). Her character’s actions were also reminiscent of a comic book villain since she just somehow knows details and has resources at her disposal.
THE COUNSELOR shouldn’t have been this bad. It should have been an epic story of one man’s downward spiral with a drug cartel. The film had all the ingredients to be great and contend for an Academy Award, but instead, it will go down as one of the worst films on the resumes of everyone involved. Some might try and convince you that there’s more to it or that it’s very subtle, but it’s another case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. There’s nothing here and any effort the filmmakers put into making things subtle or intense failed miserably. Although Cormac McCarthy’s novels are highly revered in Hollywood, no one’s script should be blindly made into a movie. His scripts require the same scrutiny and attention that everyone else’s do and if someone had taken the time to read THE COUNSELOR before making it, I think it would have been clear that McCarthy isn’t cut out to be a Hollywood screenwriter.
THE COUNSELOR BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Despite its flaws, THE COUNSELOR looks gorgeous on Blu-ray. Ridley Scott has a distinct and beautiful style and we get a lot of that in THE COUNSELOR.
Audio: The audio was just as impressive.
Truth of the Situation: Making The Counselor: This is a unique feature that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. Ridley Scott gives a great commentary that’s interspersed with mini featurettes throughout. So you watch the film with Scott’s commentary and then watch a featurette at the appropriate times, then return to the film where you left off. It’s actually pretty great and I didn’t even like the film.
Viral Pieces Uncut (7:30): Again, another unique featurette. This one features some short films with the stars of the film as well as some surprising cameos.