The Reel: Promising pedigree derails “The Counselor”


Ben Conniff

Rating 5.5/10

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

In Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy’s “The Counselor,” “Breaking Bad”’s own Dean Norris makes a brief appearance as the wholesale buyer of a large shipment of cocaine.

By “brief,” I mean that he is both introduced and then never heard from again over the course of three minutes.

Despite being part of a talented pedigree, it’s clear that Hank should’ve stayed with the DEA.

The story picks up when a nameless, cash-strapped lawyer (Michael Fassbender) invests in a big drug deal, contrary to the advising of his associates (Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt).

Inevitably, the deal goes wrong, forcing our hero into an abyss of increasingly dire straits.

Cameron Diaz steals the show as Malkina, the girlfriend of Bardem’s character, Reiner.

Her motives lend a welcome sense of depth to both her character and to the film’s final act.

Diaz manages to balance confidence and initiative in a manner that’s imposing, yet undeniably sexy.

This is made apparent not only to the audience, but to Bardem’s character in a really weird scene involving her and a car.

Watching it is like passing a bad car wreck — it’s terribly frightening but you just can’t make yourself look away.

Trailing in Diaz’s wake is the rest of the A-list cast, each given ample time to flex their chops in what feels like a series of long-winded vignettes that serve as an exposition.

Real people don’t often speak in monologues, which is how most of the dialogue is delivered.

You’d think that a screenplay from arguably one of the greatest American novelists of all time, Cormac McCarthy (“No Country for Old Men”), would be fraught with suspense and intrigue.

But as one reviewer on the film’s IMDb page said, “McCarthy fails to realize that he isn’t writing a book here.”

“The Counselor” is just boring and un-engaging — two things that stories like “No Country for Old Men” and “The Road” are not.

By trying to create intrigue and suspense with cryptic dialogue in his first-ever screenplay, he fails to make a cohesive story.

It’s clear that McCarthy shouldn’t quit his day job.

In the end, I think those audience members looking for recourse after the recent departure of dear Heisenberg will be disappointed by “The Counselor.”

Now playing at Greenwood Mall 10