Saturday, October 26, 2013

Movie Review ... The Counselor


the-counselor-posterAuthors like Edgar Wallace and Elmore Leonard made a virtue of writing about shady characters doing nefarious deeds.  How this dark underbelly would enclose once virtuous people made for riveting reading.  ‘The Counselor’ takes its cue from their crime-fuelled tomes.  Directed by the ever versatile Ridley Scott, who oversaw the similarly themed ‘Matchstick Men’, ‘The Counselor’ revels in a seedy atmosphere only his characters could enjoy.

A lawyer known only as ‘The Counselor’ (Michael Fassbender) is always looking for fast money.  Attempting to muscle in on a drug trafficking racket events soon turn nasty.  Meeting sinister people including middle-man Westray (Brad Pitt), Malkina (Cameron Diaz) and Reiner (Javier Bardem), the Counselor’s life becomes shaken.  If he is to avoid death he has to delve into his legal mind to escape its wretched clutches.

‘The Counselor’ provides a lesson in style winning over substance.  Whilst the ingredients are there for a cracking tale, very little comes to fruition.  How the Counselor slowly becomes entrapped in a violent scrum is intriguing as is the moral ambivalence of his crooked associates.  They aren’t really his friends as each has agendas in battling for every last vestige of power.  Although the performers give it their all the unfocussed story often works against their efforts.

For a story reliant on plot twists ‘The Counselor’ fails to utilise them effectively.  Most can be seen a mile away robbing the denouncement of its sting.  The plot meanders to a conclusion rather than being a tightly wound thriller.  There are good elements but Scott’s self-indulgent flourishes cushion their impact.  The few action scenes manage a modicum of tension even if the overall tale does not.

Promising much but delivering little ‘The Counselor’ is a disappointment.  The actors do what they can with the leaden material although it provides some diverting moments as it observes their character’s disreputable existence.


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  5

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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