A lawyer finds himself out of his depth when he gets involved in drug trafficking.The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) decides that, for one time only, he is going to involve himself in a joint operation with one of his rather flamboyant clients, Reiner (Javier Bardem) smuggling drugs into America to line his pockets with a little extra cash. However, it seems that Reiner’s girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz) is the real brains behind the works, and the whole reason the deal has been initiated is so she can retire to Hong Kong with all the money she could ever want. Before anyone really knows it, the plan they have all established takes a disastrous twist and The Counselor must protect himself and his soon-to-be bride (Penélope Cruz) as the truth of the drug business is uncovered and targets are eliminated.
With that kind of description, I must admit The Counselor sounded pretty good, but it was a very average film. The only reason I considered watching it was because Javier Bardem was in it. I love his work – fair enough, I’ve only ever seen two of his other films, but I think the man is an outstanding actor – however, I’m glad he was the only reason I watched The Counselor because most other aspects of the film were nothing to write home about. The problem I had with it was it just tried to be too clever for its own good, and for me, that was the film’s undoing. All I could understand was that everybody was involved in some drugs operation and that the whole thing had gone pear-shaped. Beyond that I was lost. And I think just about everyone who didn’t have a hand in writing the plot was as well. It was very difficult to follow and a bit too clever for my liking.
All that was a real shame because there were a few good performances and some excellent humour within these characters. Take Bardem for example. I keep saying that he is wonderful in anything he does and despite everything, The Counselor is no exception. For once, Bardem took on a slightly more comical role compared to those of Raoul Silva in Skyfall and Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men and he absolutely nailed it. A few of the stories his character, Reiner, had to tell were hilarious – especially the one where he relives the time he and his girlfriend were out driving one night. If I had to re-watch The Couselor again, it would purely be to see his performance and that particular scene. Bardem had me in stitches with his facial expressions and the way in which he told the stories. The man can act, end of.
Fassbender as The Counselor was also very good. He obviously knew Reiner from doing all his legal work for him to make his drug money seem legit – a bit like Saul Goodman for Walter White in Breaking Bad. After all his years working for him with no problems, he just saw a chance at making easy money for himself in the one job where things go wrong. This meant that for the majority of the film, Fassbender played someone who felt very cheated and in over his head. He went on a journey throughout the film – from a hot-shot lawyer who had everything he could ever want to a man desperately trying to keep his head above water after watching everything else sink and drown around him.
So, basically, whilst the plot was not sound. The performances most certainly were – even from Diaz – and were the main thing that kept me watching all the way to the end. The only thing that troubles me about this though is the greatness that could’ve been had the script and screenplay been more solid. Oh well…
Overall, I would say as much as a The Counselor is nothing special, which is a shame considering the acting and directing talent there was with Ridley Scott at the helm. Would I watch it again? Only if there was nothing else on, so I shan’t be raving about this one, unfortunately.