The Counselor

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on November 07, 2013

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Dear Ali Moshref
Completion Guarantor

Dear Ali,

Sometimes, you just need to get the job done, right? I mean, that's the whole reason you're on set. Getting daily production reports, overseeing the cash flow, making sure stars come out of their trailers - you're the person who has to say, "It doesn't matter how stupid this all seems, you agreed to make this fucking thing, so do it." And on a movie like The Counselor, you might be the only reason the film ever got finished.

But really, who can blame you for buying into a film so packed with potential?

First, you have Sir Ridley Scott at the helm. True, he hasn't directed a proper critical or commercial success in over a decade, but the man is a bona fide talent who can attract the best in the business. For this job, he lined up a parade of A-listers to tackle the material: Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and some impressive supporting players. But the best part? They're working from an original screenplay Cormac McCarthy! No chance anything will be lost in translation from his novel for once, right? Start printing the money and Oscar ballots now.

Well, hold on a second. Clearly you, Scott and co. didn't learn anything from Oliver Stone's eerily similar venture.

So once again, a star-studded cast is pitted against the savage drug trade along the U.S.-Mexican border. This time, the story focuses on an unnamed legal Counselor (Fassbender) who wants to finally make the big bucks by bankrolling a risky drug scheme (is this suddenly sounding a little close-to-home?). He's looped in by Bardem's thinly painted portrait of a wacky cheetah loving drug-lord and the man's sexy, nympho, cheetah-spot-tattooed girlfriend (Diaz). The Counselor keeps his own girlfriend (Cruz) blissfully in the dark about his exploits, and politely refuses to heed the warnings of Brad Pitt, playing a Brad Pitt-in-a-cowboy-hat drug-dealer type. It's a very straight-forward and ultimately, silly affair, capped off by a lot of decapitations and a pointlessly provocative car sex-scene (literally - sex with a car).

Did I miss something? Was there ever supposed to be more to this standard cautionary drug tale than what we got? Maybe not, and maybe it's that safety in familiarity that got the film financed. But what a waste. Why not leverage your assets, take a gamble and try to actually surprise people?

I know, easy for me to say.

Bucking off,


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