Monday, October 28, 2013

The Counselor - Review

The Counselor – Review

The Counselor directed by one of my all time favorites Ridley Scott, at its core is an unusual morality cautionary tale that when you freely choose to engage in an activity that you know has risk that are especially high, you better be prepared to suffer imaginable consequences when things go awry. 

It’s also about the dark noir sides of greed and how humanity has evolved, or devolved if you, where human beings who operate in these shady slivers of life; devoid of any conscious, will do some of the most unspeakable things to other humans for that greed.

Starring Michael Fassbender who is only referred to by his legal title as “Counselor” is a nice and decent man with a lovely and innocent girl friend named Laura played by Penelope Cruz. Early on we see that they are a loving and nurturing couple to each other while planning their eventual white picket fence life together. But what Laura, who is a bit naïve, doesn’t not know is that her fiancé is looking to score some quick and easy cash, millions to be specific, to pay off his debts and at the same help finance his other dream of being a co-owner of a high end club for the super wealthy with his friend named “Reiner” played by Javier Bardem. “Reiner” who comes off both a bit of a flake but also street smart as well, has expensive taste and it is obviously manifested by his high maintenance no nonsense live in girl friend named “Malkina” who is a sultry sexy blonde who walks in her Manola Blahnik like she is the antichrist in heels always making her presents known where and when ever she is in the room. 

Reiner is a well connected player to some powerful people, among them is a facilitating drug cartel conduit named “Westray” played by Brad Pitt. “Westray” a cowboy city slicker hybrid is a polished, worldly and erudite personality who has done these types of deals many time before but also warns everyone he has dealt with in the past that the margin for error when dealing with these cartel types is next to zero and that he should not do the deal..
And so the stage is set and therefore you ask does things go well for “The Counselor” in his quick cash deal? Well, of course not and what ensues is a spiraling tale of what happens metaphorically when someone knowingly goes into a dark closet with bad people.

I was utterly mystified and dumfounded by the incredibly low score for this film on Rotten Tomatoes. I found “The Counselor” an exceptionally well made film but in fairness to some this not a subtle film. It has huge characters that jump off the screen in bold dimensions, attitude and execution.  Specifically this is not the type of film for the viewer who wonders out loud to friends every few months when the sequel “Dumb and Dumber 2” is coming out. This is an extremely highbrow screenplay written with certain panache, certain flair, certain confidence and certain style. At times I felt I was watching characters that all had Ivy League degrees or at a minimum had membership to the IQ society of Mensa International. And while I found this level of screenplay conversation utterly refreshing and mentally stimulating, even when it was between seedy looking characters in dark places, I must admit I was a bit amused once by a bartender in Juarez Mexican who even offered up scholarly erudite lines that made me feel I entered into college course on the differences between Socrates and Aristotle.

Still, I think “The Counselor” is one of the better made films this year. And while it does not have any redeeming characters to root for, a few graphic scenes that sent chills up my back and Cameron Diaz’s performance who was spectacular in her role as “Malkina “, who I may add  had an erotic scene with a yellow Ferrari that is permanently etched in my mind forever.

In the end this Ridley Scott effort is a movie to be enjoyed as a pleasant reminder as to why we all went to college and not become drug dealers or any other criminal activity in general. Why? Because in “The Counselor” and in real life criminals always have guns, dogs and very sharp things at their disposal, so when you choose to play in their arena you pretty damn well should at least expect to be cut.

3 – 3/4 Stars

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