What the hell was that?
I cannot express how disappointed I was leaving this movie. The level of talent involved had my interest piqued from day one.
The movie’s actors have multiple Oscar nominations and awards among them. Tell me, if you’ve got a movie with Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Brad Pitt (who, in my opinion, has never acted poorly in any movie) in it, would you not expect it to be good?
Add on that it, was directed by Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Gladiator”), from a script written by Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer Prize winner probably best known to non-literary geeks as the man who wrote the book that “No Country for Old Men” was based on, and you have a cinephile’s dream team.
Now how, with that much talent, was this movie such a trainwreck?
The movie starts off by jumping from an intimate scene with the Counselor, played by Fassbender, and his girlfriend Laura, played by Cruz, to a truck being loaded with cocaine in Mexico.
Then, we see the Counselor meeting with various other characters in short snippets, including whacked-out club owner Reiner (Bardem) and his girlfriend Malkina (Diaz), who own cheetahs. Yes, they own two cheetahs. No, I don’t know why. They tried to explain it at the end, but I was so incredibly done with this movie, it did not payoff.
The two men talk about the “deal” they have made, later revealed to be the shipment of cocaine seen at the beginning. Obviously, something is going to go wrong.
Before the Counselor has a chance to think about that, he meets Westray, a modern cowboy played by Brad Pitt, who tries to dissuade him from getting involved with the drug cartel by explaining (in detail) the violent ways they keep associates in line. This is foreshadowing at its most blatant.
The closest guess I can venture as to what Westray’s role is in this is the middleman. I do not remember it ever being fully explained who was doing what.
That is one of my two biggest gripes with this movie. Characters are introduced without a lead up. At one point, the Counselor just calls somebody up to try to fix his problem with the cartel. This person references them being close friends, and he obviously has ties to the cartel, but I got absolutely no hint that this man existed before he showed up very close to the end.
My second biggest gripe is the dialogue. Be prepared to be blindsided by existential monologues on the nature of fear and the meaning of acceptance quite a few times.
McCarthy wrote the script the same way he writes his books. For those who have not had the pleasure of reading one of his novels, he is very poetic in his descriptions, and his dialogue is very otherworldly. His style of writing is wonderful; however, it does not, in any way, work in a cinematic format.
The characters launch into these philosophical discussions with seemingly no provocation. There is one scene with Malkina and a car that causes Reiner to segue into some psycho-babble that left me looking at my friend like, “Are they being serious?”
This movie was trying so incredibly hard to be something other than a stereotypical drug thriller. It certainly is not stereotypical, but that in and of itself does not make a good movie.
Email comments to jts...@latech.edu.