Tuesday, June 16, 2015

So Bad it’s Good: The Counselor (2013)

Copyright: 20th Century Fox
Many films demand a certain state of mind if they are to be experienced to the fullest. For the Counselor, that state of mind should be something between feeling very sleepy and being exceedingly agitated. In this golden zone of inactivity (sleep) and frantic activity fueled by anxiety and frustration (agitation), it produces a unique experience. Here, the film shines like a true diamond of total overconfidence, in spite of the fact that it was built on devastate foundations of a script that is not simply overly ambitious, but aims for the spot of a modern masterpiece. The result is a funny and pointless film, but not because of its plot holes and illogical series of events, but because it seems to believe that not many thrillers of modern time can be compared with it.

This is seen from the first moment when the basic relations are set. In it, Michael Fassbender plays a successful attorney and a man who desires to get into drug trafficking, but knows nothing of it. Javier Bardem plays Reiner, his guide on this perilous journey, who has more experience and a lot better fashion style. Together, they initiate a financial series of events that gradually summon a Mexican cartel to their lives when all begins to fall apart.

Aside from these two incredible actors, there are many other who know their craft, but nothing of this is relevant next to the script. Here, the writer, who is a brilliant man by the name of Cormac McCarthy, a man who created the masterpiece called The Blood Meridian, managed to cook up a mixture of speeches which are all twice as large as life. Everything in the film is followed by a witty narrative segment and every line is not only a punch line, but a wrecking ball when it comes to its desired impact. In every minute, some character says something worthy of Cesar or Napoleon during their most important battles, and the sheer amount of serious situations clutters everything. 

The film’s director Ridley Scott, just like in the case of Prometheus, once again fails to successfully wrestle with inadequate scripts and instead tries to glide through them, resulting in complete calamity. When the talking stops, the film switched gears into a gritty action film with bursts of Uzi automatic fire and machine-induced beheadings, which makes even less sense then the overspent cerebral approach and mastery of introspection, which is a trait of every character that appears on screen for more than one minute.

In some variations, the McCarthy’s script would work, if the setting was rural Arizona where everyone was dirt poor, but still behaved like a Harvard philosophy professor without any explanation who this came to be. Rian Johnson and his movie Brick managed to pull this off a decade ago. But when McCarthy’s work was brought to life using Scott’s blockbuster approach and set in a super-glamorous setting, it lost all meaning and become infused with presumptuousness that is rarely seen in this magnitude. Unlike other badly devised but presumptuous films like Before I Go to Sleep, this one is not flawed when it comes to its story. This is definitely a plus, but at the end, as Linking Park says, it doesn’t really matter. 

The Counselor is a hilarious concoction that can only be enjoyed as a disfigured reminder that some things don’t work well together, even if they are great separately. Also, it is a reminder that Ridley Scott really didn’t make a good film since the American Gangster.

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