Cinema Movie Review: The Counselor (2013)

The-Counselor-2013Mexican mess

Catherine Feore returns with her thoughts on Ridley Scott‘s latest.

Well, who would have thought – it is a bad idea to have any truck with Mexican drug cartels! That is certainly the message that I’m taking home from this movie.

Mexico’s drugs war is undoubtedly a very ruthless business, and the word ‘war’ is not a misnomer – it is estimated that more than 80,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico in the past seven years, some in particularly grotesque acts of revenge on whole communities.

Despite the obvious dangers, ‘the counselor’ (Michael Fassbender) finds himself up to his oxters in a Mexican drug deal that goes wrong. It isn’t terribly clear why the counsellor has got himself in this situation, other than the fact that he wants to buy an expensive engagement ring for his girlfriend Laura (Penélope Cruz) – we even accompany Fassbender on a trip to Amsterdam to buy the said ring. I imagine that this shopping trip was meant to be infused with deep meaning that I missed, because otherwise it should have ended up on the cutting room floor. If there is a lesson to be learnt about the dangers of consumer culture it comes from the product placement dotted throughout the movie.

The credentials of the film look promising, some good actors, particularly Fassbender, Ridley Scott as director and the great writer behind the Border Trilogy and The Road, Cormac McCarthy . Sadly, though, the film is a complete turkey. Cameron Diaz as the villainous girlfriend of Reiner (Javier Bardem) is Diaz’s best comic role since There’s Something About Mary (1998)she looks as if she’s having trouble keeping a straight face by the end of the movie, especially when she launches into a ridiculous parable about hunting, and there is an earlier scene where she ‘f**ks’ a Ferrari (please note, a FERRARI). I would tweak with the casting for the comedy remake, Javier Bardem does a good comic turn too, but maybe Michael Fassbender could be replaced by Ben Stiller. Cormac McCarthy’s script, while unwittingly ridiculous, could be redrafted for a few more laughs and I would welcome less violence.

I am of course being facetious, but more seriously, what is happening in Mexico is horrendous and deserves a better film, with a more Mexican cast.

117 mins.

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