“The Counselor” (Crime/Drama: 1 hour, 57 minutes)
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt
Director: Ridley Scott
Rated: R (Sexuality, profanity, violence, nudity and thematic elements)
Movie Review: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy has penned some good novels from which excellent films have emerged: “No Country for Old Men” (2007), “The Road” (2009), and “All the Pretty Horses” (2000). “The Counselor” is a screenplay from the famed writer. It feels like this film is the Cliff Notes to a novel. Apparently, some of the notes were omitted that would clarify some character actions.
Fassbender is the Counselor. He is an attorney for drug traffickers. He collaborates with Reiner (Bardem) and Westray (Pitt). Their relationships become dangerous ones when the men find they have angered the wrong mafia.
This film’s main redeeming feature is the talented cast. Fassbender (“Prometheus,” 2012) is an excellent actor. He is solid here. Despite this movie’s deficiencies, it thrives because of Fassbender. When it comes to drama, he earns his keep.
Cruz is nicely convincing in her role as Fassbender’s love interest. Diaz is tantalizing in a manner similar to Sharon Stone’s role in “Basic Instinct” (1992). Bardem always makes his characters intriguing, and Pitt gives the film a bit of needed humor. They are just a few of the talented actors of this ensemble.
However, the cast is in a wayward story that never provides actors tangible connections to make lasting impressions. This aspect exists because players lack histories to justify intentions.
Ridley Scott is an excellent director. His team up with McCarthy should equal a splendid movie, but they and a talented cast cannot save this film that lacks ultimate suspense.
A major problem is this story’s execution. The screenplay has gaps, where audiences must piece together what is transpiring. This is difficult when the film starts without defining characters. It also fails to sharpen its plot that feels incomplete.
The moments in between scenes have gaps where story elements appear missing. The film does not define the setting, and the motives of characters and the aim of the plot remain vague.
Grade: C (Cast is intriguing, but the story is in need of counseling.)
“Bad Grandpa” (Comedy: 1 hour, 32 minutes)
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll and Greg Harris
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Rated: R (Thematic elements, sexual innuendo, crude humor, profanity and nudity)