THE COUNSELOR Blu-ray Review
The Counselor looked like it was poised to be a slick action thriller that fans have come to expect from director Ridley Scott. That coupled with the fact that the film is based on a Cormac McCarthy screenplay had me looking forward to seeing the film in theaters. The first trailer had me looking forward to a solid action thriller. I decided to skip it in theaters after reading abysmal reviews. I am glad that I did after watching it on Blu-ray, in fact I wish I could get that two hours of my life back. Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Goran Visnjic, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, and Javier Bardem. can’t save the film from a horrible plot that meanders around with no sense of where it’s going.
Apparently when you combine an A-list cast, a top-notch director and intriguing source material you get one of the best looking pieces of crap. Scott is known for making epic films that are beautifully shot. Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and Kingdom of Heaven are some of my favorite films from Scott. McCarthy’s stories have been used in some great films like The Road and No Country for Old Men. The Counselor is McCarthy’s first screenplay so I have to give him a slight pass because of this being his first time with this medium. It is still mind-boggling how such a great author can produce such a horrible screenplay.
I consider The Counselor to be a character(s) study that has gone horribly wrong. It follows a high-priced lawyer (Fassbender) who willingly becomes involved in drug trafficking.The counselor seems to have the dream life thanks to his soon-to-be fiancee Laura (Cruz). The counselor is pulled into the drug culture with the help of Reiner (Javier Bardem). Bardem once again has one of the oddest hairdos, even odder than No Country for Old Men. Reiner is an all-around eccentric crime lord who has two vicious pets in his life – one a beautiful leopard and the other his girlfriend Malkina (Diaz). Both the leopard and Malkina devour their pray for survival and in the case of Malkina, power. There are a number of shady supporting characters that we are introduced to in quick and rather confusing sequences throughout the film.
Reiner warns that counselor of the dangers of becoming involved with drug dealing, but that doesn’t stop him from proceeding. Reiner facilitates a meeting with Westray (Pitt), who is a middle man between the counselor and the cartel. Westray also cautions the counselor not proceed with the deal, but nothing seems to be able to change his mind. There deal has the potential for astronomical profits for all involved. There are a number of moving parts to the deal so it could easily go awry, which it of course does with horrible consequences for all involved.
Usually with a film with strong characters I find myself rooting for the success of at least one of them. In this case I don’t have compassion for any of them. For someone as seemingly smart as a lawyer, the counselor is one of the dumbest individuals. Reiner and Westray both know that one day their luck will run out, so I don’t feel any compassion for them. I can’t stand Malkina as a character, partly because I despise Diaz as an actor, but also because she is a manipulative bitch. Lorna is the only character in the film I truly feel sorry for because she is inadvertently drawn into this situation.
The picture and sound quality are exactly what you would expect from a Blu-ray. It was shot with a Red Epic camera and presented in an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1. The desert colors and Reiner’s garish wardrobe pop on screen as a result. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix successfully immerses you in the scenes. The following special features are included on the Blu-ray:
- Theatrical version that clocks in at 1:57:14 and an Unrated Extended Cut which is 2:17:56 are featured on separate discs
- Viral Pieces: Uncut is three short films that series of three short films that delve deeper into the characters of Laura, The Counselor, and Reiner and Malkina
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- Truth of the Situation: Making The Counselor behind-the-scenes featurette.
All of Scott’s films are long, and sometimes it is warranted. In the case of this film, I would have been happy if a good 45 minutes would have been cut from the second and third acts. The dialogue is great, but the story tries to do too much in the amount of time. I would have rather seen this turned into a short TV series on HBO then Scott and McCarthy could indulge in long sequences with great dialogue. The Counselor is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th Century Fox. You can buy it today on Amazon.