"The Counselor" Review

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With an all star cast and a legendary director at the helm I assumed “The Counselor” would be incredible. In a time when Oscar gold is hitting the theaters week after week now, I was positive this would be another hit. In fact it was in my Most Anticipated list for the fall. I was wrong. 

Michael Fassbender is a lawyer known only as The Counselor. At the start of the film we find him at a crossroads and point of no return in which he decides to get into the world of drug trafficking. It’s obvious that the Counselor has made the decision to enter the dark because of money. He has a beautiful loving fiance named Laura (Penelope Cruz) that he has to keep happy with a 3.8 karat ring that he just purchased even though it seems to be out of his budget. (Although Laura doesn’t strike me as the type to care about things.) He hangs out with Reiner (Javier Bardem), a drug kingpin who lives an extravagant lifestyle with his main squeeze Malkina (Cameron Diaz). He links up with middle man Westray (Brad Pitt) to seal the deal with the cartel. It’s his desire to keep up with the Joneses and a chance connection with one of his clients that becomes his downfall. 

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Directed by Ridley Scott, “The Counselor” in short, is a puffed up cautionary tale of greed and bad judgement. While in theory that should work it doesn’t; at least not smoothly. I think Scott did the best he could with the material. It’s a beautifully shot piece with controlled pacing but it takes most of the running time before things get interesting. Each member of the cast brought something to the table. Diaz gives a stand out performance as Malkina, the smartest and perhaps scariest person in the room. The issue comes down to the script and its dialogue.

Cormac McCarthy (writer of No Country for Old Men & The Road) embarks on his debut as the screenwriter of the film rather than the novelists from which the film was based. There is a huge difference between literary writing and screenwriting structure and this film exposes it. Half of the time I was trying to decipher what was being said. The dialogue had such convoluted, flowery prose that I had to take a mental break from the movie to catch up. Once I did catch up I realized that much of what was being said didn’t move the story forward. There were many shocker moments within the film, but they served no purpose other than to do just that. 

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I’m still in awe of the fact that with such a great roster this film left me asking “what did I just watch?”. I don’t mean that in a mind blowing good way, but in a get home and google to fill in the gaps of the story you missed way. If I’m being honest...I missed a couple sections because I fell asleep. This movie isn’t worth your hard earned money in the theaters unless you like catching cat naps with large crowds.

Rating: D 

 

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.