Friday, October 25, 2013

"The Counselor" a Major Misfire


Whatever Happened to Ridley Scott?

By Skip Sheffield

Whatever happened to the Ridley Scott who scared the dickens out of us with “Alien” in 1979; who dazzled us with “Blade Runner” in 1982 and who confused us, but still maintained our interest in “Prometheus” in 2012?
That noted British directed is nowhere to be found in “The Counselor;” a misbegotten mystery-thriller if there ever was one.
The same could be asked of Michael Fassbender, who roused our emotions in Inglourious Basterds” in 2009 and shocked and provoked us in “Shame’ in 2012.
And most ingloriously, whatever happened to the sweet Cameron Diaz we all fell for in the irresistible “There’s Something About Mary” in 1998?
Granted, Diaz has one indelible screen moment in “The Counselor” that will go down in cinematic infamy. It involves a Ferrari owned by another wasted talent, Javier Bardem (with more bizaare hair), the windshield of said Ferrari, and a spread-eagled actress acting slutty but looking silly.
We could go on and on. When did Brad Pitt stop being a hunk? When was Penelope Cruz de-sensualized?
Perhaps the biggest question is how can a script by Cormac McCarthy (“No Country for Old Men,” “The Road”) be so bad and banal?
“The Counselor” of the title is played by German actor Michael Fassbender. He is never given a proper name; just Counselor.
The Counselor goes into hock to buy a huge diamond for his fiancĂ©e Laura (Penelope Cruz). He can’t be a very smart lawyer, because he thinks he can make some quick, dirty money dealing with drug baron Reiner (Javier Bardem) and his treacherous girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz).
It’s a bad idea that keeps getting worse and worse. The setting is El Paso, Texas, which is a hotbed of drug cartels and illegal immigration. Do we need to be told again how bad drug cartels are? How they have no regard for truth, decency or human life? How their main motivating factor is greed?
Evidently the Counselor must need remedial training in this obvious lesson. It is neither entertaining, uplifting nor educational to endure this brutal, sadistic exercise. I did so you don’t have to.

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