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The Counselor (2013)

TOMATOMETER

Average Rating: 4.9/10
Reviews Counted: 194
Fresh: 66
Rotten: 128

Critics Consensus: The Counselor raises expectations with its talented cast and creative crew -- then subverts them with a wordy and clumsy suspense thriller that's mercilessly short on suspense or thrills.

Average Rating: 4.6/10
Reviews Counted: 43
Fresh: 10
Rotten: 33

Critics Consensus: The Counselor raises expectations with its talented cast and creative crew -- then subverts them with a wordy and clumsy suspense thriller that's mercilessly short on suspense or thrills.

AUDIENCE SCORE

Average Rating: 2.4/5
User Ratings: 40,595

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Movie Info

Legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott and Pulitzer Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) have joined forces in the motion picture thriller THE COUNSELOR, starring Michael Fassbender, PenÚlope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt. McCarthy, making his screenwriting debut and Scott interweave the author's characteristic wit and dark humor with a nightmarish scenario, in which a respected lawyer's one-time dalliance with an illegal business deal spirals out of … More

Rating:
R (for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language)
Genre:
Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
Cormac McCarthy
In Theaters:
On DVD:
Feb 11, 2014
Box Office:
$17.0M
Runtime:
Fox Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Counselor

All Critics (194) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (66) | Rotten (128)

It's filthy, nasty, sexy, absurd, appalling, and exhilarating, and it succeeds as a musky union of novelist Cormac McCarthy's bleakness and Ridley Scott's sense of chic.

Full Review… | December 10, 2013
Grantland
Top Critic

A great writer's pompous idea of pulp fiction, treated with stultifying seriousness by everyone else involved.

Full Review… | November 12, 2013
Time Out
Top Critic

Each scene serves as little more than an index card for the mechanistic plot, which Scott films in a glossy and fluid style befitting an industrial promotion for the movie's high-tech weaponry.

Full Review… | November 4, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

The Counselor is the cumbersome end product of a high-minded writer trying to slum and a slick director aiming for cosmic depth.

Full Review… | October 28, 2013
Village Voice
Top Critic

It's not so much a bad film as it is a disappointing one. A very disappointing one.

Full Review… | October 28, 2013
ReelViews
Top Critic

It's like a mumblecore movie about a bunch of Sarah Lawrence philosophy majors, made by coked-up rich people for 100 bajillion dollars.

Full Review… | October 28, 2013
Salon.com
Top Critic

Despite some lovely exchanges and cracking lines, The Counsellor is too complex and wordy for its own good.

Full Review… | October 10, 2014
Birmingham Mail

McCarthy's script is a huge misfire. Adapt this into a full-fledged novel, where an author can detail a character's history, beats, and motivations, and then you likely have a successful medium.

Full Review… | September 14, 2014
AwardsCircuit.com

The Counselor is an ugly, ugly picture, even despite its absurdly attractive leads.

Full Review… | August 18, 2014
Under the Radar

With moments of true greatness and strong performances, the film still ultimately fails to live up to its potential for surprising reasons, while still being one of this year's most fascinating films to think about and discuss.

Full Review… | August 1, 2014
Forbes

This isn't a thriller, this is far more than that: it's a journey to a very dark, very real place on Earth.

Full Review… | May 5, 2014
Movie Mezzanine

Half navel-gazing and half despair, and both feel like McCarthy's writing hallmarks wrenched tight to the point of self-parody. Even if that's the case, it's only involving in spasms, and the good parts go nowhere he hasn't been before.

Full Review… | April 8, 2014
Movie Mezzanine

McCarthy and Scott capitalize their themes: this is The End. This is The End of the Road, the End of Civilization, the End of Capitalism. This isn't neo-noir, it's Řber-noir.

Full Review… | April 4, 2014
Newcity

I think I liked The Counselor?

Full Review… | February 26, 2014
CraveOnline

You get the feeling that there's an extremely interesting story unfolding, but we're constantly on the periphery and there's not nearly enough substance to sink your teeth into.

Full Review… | January 2, 2014
Fan The Fire

The plot is boring, who-cares nonsense. I think it's just unbelievably weird, and not only because Cameron Diaz screws a car.

Full Review… | December 26, 2013
EntertainmentTell

The script, packed with pretentious lines and silly dialogue, manages to dull even the most exciting and provocative parts of this story.

Full Review… | December 24, 2013
Big Hollywood

Whatever else happens in this movie, the woman who fucks a car is most audacious, most incomprehensible and the most deeply banal emblem, the limit of men's imaginations.

Full Review… | December 17, 2013
PopMatters

A spectacular feeding frenzy

Full Review… | November 18, 2013
The Popcorn Junkie

Looking at the pedigree of the talent involved, and the oddly subdued damp squib that they eventually turned out, it's a weirdly gratifying task figuring out exactly how it all went wrong.

Full Review… | November 18, 2013
Electric Sheep

Blah bloody blah.

Full Review… | November 17, 2013
Observer [UK]

With Ridley Scott at the helm and the starriest of A-list casts, The Counsellor may come with lashings of Hollywood gloss, but don't bargain on any Hollywood sugar-coating of McCarthy's customary nihilism.

Full Review… | November 17, 2013
Movie Talk

It is well worth seeing. But it is the product of a clash between two very different sensibilities, those of its author, Cormac McCarthy, and its director, Ridley Scott.

Full Review… | November 15, 2013
This is London

Despite some lovely exchanges and cracking lines, The Counsellor is too complex and wordy for its own good, so it's Cormac 1, Scott 0.

Full Review… | November 15, 2013
Birmingham Post

Frustratingly directionless and unconcerned with detail, but fans of the writer will feel right at home wallowing through fresh reams of his trademark bleak prose.

Full Review… | November 15, 2013
Film4

Audience Reviews for The Counselor

The Counselor had all the makings of a fine dramatic thriller, great cast, fine director, interesting premise, yet the result is underwhelming. I didn't think the film was awful like so many other viewers, but I felt that the film overall was overall bland, and it tried to be far too ambitious without exploring its ideas to the fullest, leaving a lot to be desired. The first half of the film I thought was very good, interesting and had enough for a great set up, but the second half, that's where things fall apart. I felt that during the film's second hour, the film was all over the place, and after a while, you simply lost interest and that's a shame because with the amount of talent involved, this film should really have been something great. The film's biggest problem is that the film's script is underdeveloped and there are far too many ideas that simply don't come to fruition. The Counselor could have been an engaging thriller, but it ends up being a mediocre film, despite a strong start. Don't go into this one expecting a good film, you'll sadly be disappointed, as this film never satisfies and it ends up being a waste of time. I love Ridley Scott, and he is one of my favorite directors, however here, he struck his first dud in many years, and that's saying something. Despite the talent involved here, the overall execution of the film is poor, and it leaves you wanting more out of the film. The idea was great, and it had the potential of being truly something impressive, but that was not to be. The Counselor doesn't thrill, enthrall or entertain, it just lingers for two hours with a two many wasted ideas stuck in a poorly held together screenplay that should definitely Have been reworked a bit more before the cameras started rolling.

More
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Ridley Scott's The Counselor received some pretty harsh criticism on it's release, criticism that I find totally unjustified and fairly puzzling. The Counselor was written by Cormac McCarthy and anyone who has read any of his work will tell you this film is pure Cormac McCarthy, indeed it is a perfect visual realisation of Cormac McCarthy's words. In this sense it is faultless. In fact, my only criticism is that it's just a little bit too cinematic, for want of a better word. That is just a niggle though as it looks great. I suspect the audience expected something different based on the cast and the misleading post-production advertising, it's continually frustrating that the audience is now fast becoming the narrow minded element in cinema going rather than the greedy talentless executive producers. The cast do an amazing job, each one giving brilliant performances but making them look effortless. The script is sharp as a knife and would impress equally if it was just a radio drama. Like I said, it's pure Cormac McCarthy but it's only the audience that seem to have missed that. And everyone loved A Good Year? I just don't get it. The Counselor is unfortunately 2013's 'Killing Them Softly'. Poor old Brad!

http://cinephilecrocodile.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/the-counselor-dir-ridley-scott-2013.html

More
SirPant
Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

The Counselor: A Shakespearean tragedy of greed and desperation.

Decent Film! There were a few disturbingly violent scenes that boosted the film's tone, for lack of a better term, literally, and reminded us of the excellence of No Country for Old Men. You're also met with an outrageous sex scene that's equally disturbing and sexy for some, and those scenes might be the only snippets of The Counselor remembered down the road. The ending was also not very reassuring, cutting to the credits unexpectedly shortly after another monotonous and ambiguous conversation. The only decent element of this movie was its soundtrack, but then again, its quality could've just been determined in comparison to the oddity and nuisance that the rest of the film consisted of. In sum, the best way to describe The Counselor is "brutally unsatisfying." I felt no sense of satisfaction by the time it drew to a close, and everything simply felt so meaningless and forgettable. There's no question that it left a bad taste in my mouth, and I sincerely hope that Ridley Scott ups his game sometime soon.

A rich and successful lawyer, the Counselor, is about to get married to his fiancÚe but soon becomes entangled in a complex drug plot with a middle-man known as Westray. The plan ends up taking a horrible twist and he must protect himself and his soon to be bride as the truth of the drug business is uncovered and targets are eliminated.

More
MANUGINO
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Being a huge fan of Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Cormac McCarthy, Ridley Scott was originally planning to adapt his controversial 1985 novel "Blood Meridian" before the project eventually fell through. Scott, however, was given another chance when McCarthy wrote his first ever original screenplay in the mould of "The Counselor". Circling it for a short time, Scott eventually took the reigns and drafted in a star studded cast which led it to be one of the most anticipated movies of 2013. When it finally reached the public-eye, though, it was met with such a vehement backlash that I actually steered clear of it... until now.

Deeply in love with his fianc├ (C)e Laura (Penelope Cruz), The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) aims to provide a high standard of living for her. To do so, he enters into a one-time deal with dangerous drug dealer Reiner (Javier Bardem), his sociopathic girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz) and middle-man Westray (Brad Pitt). Despite several warnings about the severe consequences of dealing with the Mexican cartel, The Counselor foolishly decides to go ahead anyway.

"Inert", "directionless", "disjointed", "misjudged" - these are just a few of the adjectives that I came across when "The Counselor" was released to mass disappointment. As a result, I went into it with very heavy reservations. If truth be told, I was preparing to write a scathing review where I could really pick out the flaws and expose them for all their ludicrousness. Much to my surprise then, that after 20 mins I found myself with nothing to criticise and if anything, I started to find my feet in this elaborate thriller and found myself enjoying it more and more with every passing minute. It became apparent that this isn't a film that's "misjudged", this is a film that has received a very misjudged marketing campaign. It's not the fast paced, slick crime thriller that many were expecting but more of a deliberate and philosophical parable about the nature of greed and the rippling effect of immoral decisions.

A lot has been said about McCarthy's first ever screenplay and his unconventional method. Many have claimed it to be deliberately cryptic and indecipherable. Admittedly, at times, it can be but the real key to understanding the film is breaking through our preconceived ideas of how dialogue should be delivered. The answers are there, they just need that extra concentration and willingness to find them. Some lengthy monologues do keep the audience at a particular arms length and it can be difficult to break through their very dense and metaphoric meanings but I managed to play along and actually found the film to be richly rewarding.

It looks fantastic, with wonderful picturesque locations and even though the characters are lavish and colourful, this is still a very believable and foreboding criminal underworld. Scott shows a confident handling of the material and the acting ensemble all seem fully committed to McCarthy's abstract and idiosyncratic prose. I didn't get the impression that they felt strained or unsure of what they were involved in here and that's primarily what makes the film work. Each of their characters are convincing and they all deliver solid performances.

That being said, this is not a film that will appeal to everyone and it's entirely understandable why it hasn't been kindly received. Very little is explained; there's no backstory or linear conclusion and even Fassbender's Counselor is never revealed by name. In fact, those that were critical of the underwhelming epilogue of the Coen brothers' adaptation of McCarthy's "No Country For Old Men" in 2007 will likely be frustrated with "The Counselor" in it's entirety. The whole film operates on that suggestive level. It's a bold and daring move but one that I find respects the audiences ability to read into events and possibilities.

Having been disappointed in a lot of Ridley's Scott's recent films, I was expecting more of the same here. Far from it, though. This is a highly underrated neo-noir that's one of Scott's best efforts for some time and McCarthy constructs a transcendent, almost Shakespearean, tragedy. It only leaves me with hope that this won't be the last time he writes a screenplay - despite it's much maligned reception.

Mark Walker

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MrMarakai
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

The Counselor Quotes


Ruth:
Thanks. I owe you.
Counselor:
Yes, you do.
Ruth:
How 'bout a blowjob?
Counselor:
You'd still owe me $380.
– Submitted by Brian V (3 months ago)
Westray:
If your definition of a friend is someone who will die for you, then you don't have any friends.
– Submitted by Frances H (3 months ago)
Diamond Dealer:
To partake of the stone's endless destiny, is that not the meaning of adornment? To enhance the beauty of the beloved is to acknowledge both her frailty and the nobility of that frailty. At our noblest, we announce to the darkness that we will not be diminished by the brevity of our lives.
– Submitted by Lorenzo V (8 months ago)
Counselor:
Catfish?
– Submitted by Aaron H (11 months ago)
Laura:
The truth has no temperature.
– Submitted by Tyrone L J (11 months ago)

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