Michael Fassbender stars as lawyer who's in over his head in a drug deal. Penélope Cruz co-stars as his naive girlfriend. (Kerry Brown)
‘The Counselor” is pretty much a pretentious bore, despite its fine cast and a few memorably bizarre moments.
It’s directed by Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Blade Runner,” “Gladiator,” the list goes on), so it certainly looks good, and it stars Javier Bardem, Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Brad Pitt and an extremely game Cameron Diaz, thus there’s no lack of talent.
The problem — and it’s a huge problem — is the script, the first screenplay from the acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy, whose novels “No Country for Old Men” and “The Road” have been made into effective films.
From its opening utterly pointless and unrevealing sex scene, the films feels pumped full of hot air. For the entire first hour nothing really happens besides long philosophical discussions in the sort of arcane language no one would ever use. Things pick up in the film’s second half, but the false-sounding dialogue never goes away, while key pieces of plot logic never appear.
Fassbender plays The Counselor, a lawyer who’s in love with Laura (Cruz), but who’s also trying to make a big score in a dope deal with shady types Reiner (Bardem) and Westray (Pitt). Thanks to the manipulations of Reiner’s black widow girlfriend (Diaz), the deal goes bad, and you-know-what hits the fan.
And that’s really it. This slight story is mostly just a framework for ridiculously baroque conversations and musings on the human condition garnished with the occasional bloody encounter.
If you can stay awake past the first half, you’ll get to see Ms. Diaz’s acrobatic form and a fairly unique assassination, but even those moments aren’t worth the wait. “The Counselor” is guilty on all counts.
Rated R for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language
Running time: 117 minutes