I shall be examining the case against The Counselor, weighing its arguments, hearing its pleas and coming to a verdict to find if it’s a guilty pleasure or guilty as sin. So read on only if you’ve already seen The Counselor, or don’t plan to.
Know that here, like every story, there are two sides. Side A is the Hispanic drug cartel who simply want to deliver their drugs to Chicago, and the B Side: a team of thieves who want to steal said drugs, or at least the 20 million dollars they’re worth.
- Reiner (Javier Bardem)
- Westray (Brad Pitt)
- Counselor (Michael Fassbender)
Team Robbin’ Hoods:
- Malkina (Cameron Diaz)
0:02:54 Laura (Penélope Cruz) and the Counselor (Michael Fassbender) are playing sex games in bed. This, we will learn later, is the best scene of the film.
Laura: I want you to finger fuck me.
The Counselor: You’ve reached a whole new level of depravity, haven’t you?
Oh sweetie, that is nowhere near as perverse as you think it is. If that shocks you, there are pits of depravity you have yet to crack, let alone delve in to.
Malkina (Cameron Diaz): I think to miss something is to hope it will come back. But it’s not coming back. I’ve always known that, since I was a girl.
Reiner (Javier Bardem): You don’t think that’s a bit cold?
Malkina: I think truth has no temperature.
Malkina and Reiner chat while they wait for a drug shipment to arrive from Mexico
Cormac McCarthy went to the David Mamet school of script writing. If you don’t get that reference, you probably won’t enjoy this film.
0:14:38 The Counselor is buying Laura a diamond in Amsterdam using a lot of technical terms.
Counselor: So it’s graded what?
Jeweller: A BS-1.
That sounds like a lot of BS, should you ask me.
Reiner: My guess is that in most cases, if you still had the woman you were weeping over, you’d be weeping harder.
These philosophical ‘gems’ (with loads of BS) are really just McCarthy using the characters as puppets to recite his own favourite lines. This is what happens when you get the writer of depressing novels (Cormac McCarthy wrote No Country for Old Men and The Road) to pen his first screenplay—like asking Sylvia Plath to pole dance.
0:25:58 Reiner talks about a bolito, an automatic garotte that has a metal noose with a motor that continues to tighten until the victim’s head pops off. This is presented as a horrible death, though it’s not as horrible as he thinks it is. In True Detective, they describe a death where drug dealers cut the skin off your face in front of a mirror, then stuff your own severed genitals in your mouth and make you watch in the reflection. Have you got even worse? Leave a comment!
0:29:32 A sort of motorcycle courier (the Green Hornet, works for the cartel) picks up a bag of dog food at a Texan adobe park and tells a story about how he’s on a dog biscuit diet, and that whenever he’s hungry he eats a dog treat. He’s lost 25 pounds in 3 days but must be vigilant– the last time he ended up in the hospital. A Systemic reaction? No, he was sitting in the street licking his balls when a truck ran him over.
0:34:36 The Counselor proposes marriage to Laura in a restaurant with the diamond we saw earlier and she says, “Yes.” Not as romantic as they think it is.
Counselor: You are a glory.
Laura: I’m a glory?
Counselor: Yes, as in ‘glorious’. You’re a glorious woman.
Laura: And you’re a man of impeccable taste. Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.
Counselor: You can’t take it back. I intend to love you until I die.
Laura: Me first.
Counselor: Not on your life.
FYI, she loses the bet on her life.
0:39:26 Enter Brad Pitt as ‘Westray’, money man for the Cartel. What have they done to him, making him look ridiculous and act badly!? And here I thought Brad Pitt could do no wrong. Although he could do worse…than me. [winky face]
Westray: [making a toast] A plague of pustulant boils upon all their scurvid asses.
The Counselor: Is that your normal toast?
0:44:05 Lovely discussion about how drug lords keep kidnappers on retainer. If you find yourself discussing this in a business meeting, it should be none of your business.
0:45:52 A recurring theme in this film seems to be women.
- The Counselor has his ‘pure love’ for Laura
- Westray/Brad Pitt explains women are the only reason he can’t leave his lifestyle behind to live in a monastery and wash steps
- Reiner/Bardem is in unholy love with the twisted Malkina/Cameron Diaz. As he’s Cartel and she the thief (though no one knows it), it’s like Romeo and Juliet, where Juliet is an emasculating, man-eating bitch
As a gay man, you’ll forgive me if I find it hard to relate. Or, after this scene with Brad Pitt, simply find it hard.
The Counselor: How fast was he going?
Ruth (female inmate): 206.
The Counselor: 206.
The Counselor: What is that? 206. That’s not a speed. That’s somebody’s weight, or a time of day.
In a scene that will be fate-full for the Counselor, he meets with Ruth/Rosie Perez (Team Cartel) in prison where she says her son, the courier from earlier with the dog joke, was arrested for speeding on his motorcycle. She convinces the Counselor to get him out of prison.
Bailing out the Green Hornet will bring on the Counselor’s downfall–not the hours of money talk that pock mark the rest of the film. WTF!?
0:51:38 Drugs are run out of Mexico in a septic company’s waste trucks. And what a waste it is! That’s some pretty good shit.
0:56:56 The Counselor and Reiner are going in on a club together for no reason and telling long jokes with no punchline.
0:57:56 A man and a woman who work for Malkina are surveilling the Green Hornet (motorcycle boy) as he picks up an electronic connector necessary to start the septic tank full of drugs. He keeps it in his helmet, so it’s over his head, but not over ours.
1:07:51 Reiner tells the Counselor a tale of how Malkina had sex with the windscreen of his car, while he watched from the passenger seat. This is not as shocking as these two hard-end ladies’ men think it is.
1:15:34 In order to steal the electronic equipment to steal the drug truck, one of Malkina’s crew cuts off motorcycle boy’s head by stringing wire across the road where he rides, and then taking the device from the helmet. Similar to ‘picking his brain’.
1:22:01 Westray tells the Counselor that the bad drug people are angry because motorcycle boy is dead and their drugs are missing (we know the drugs were stolen by Cameron Diaz’s crew). The Cartel think the Counselor is involved because he had the Green Hornet released from jail earlier. Or they’re as desperate for some action as we are.
It’s not that you’re going down, Counselor, it’s what you’re taking down with you.
Westray says he’s out and is cutting his losses before his losses cut him
1:28:12 The cartel, dressed up like cops, pull the stolen drug truck over (Cameron’s crew is driving) and there’s a shoot-out. Then some poor bloke driving along this back road happens upon the scene and the surviving cartel member lets him go… straight to heaven after shooting the shit
with out of him.
1:34:07 The Counselor and Laura make plans to meet in Boise. Sounds like the kind of place people never make it to.
1:40:17 Javier/Reiner is shot in a field by the cartel. His death was better than his haircut.
If your definition of a friend is someone who’ll die for you, you don’t have any friends.
Westray on the phone to the Counselor
1:43:48 Laura is kidnapped by the cartel at the airport. #SpanishTakeAway
1:53:29 The Counselor is on the phone with the head of the cartel (Rubén Blades as ‘Jefe’) who uses words like ‘heretofore’ and refuses to tell him where Laura is. So the Counselor gives him an English lesson on the word ‘hiatus’. Seriously.
The world in which you seek to undo the mistakes that you made is different from the world where the mistakes were made. You are now at the crossing and you want to choose, but there is no choosing, there is only accepting. The choosing was done a long time ago.
Jefe, Drug Cartel Boss & Philosopher
When it comes to grief, the normal rules of exchange do not apply, because grief transcends value. A man would give entire nations to lift grief off his heart, and yet you cannot buy anything with grief because grief is worthless.
Jefe, Drug Cartel Boss & Poet
Drug Cartel bosses are more intelligent than we think.
1:59:36 In London town, Brad Pitt/Westray meets Moriarty from Elementary (Natalie Dormer as ‘Blonde’) and asks her to have a drink. Westray’s Achilles heel is a penis.
2:02:14 The Counselor walks through a demonstration of people protesting missing women in Mexico, and we’re reminded of the ‘snuff films’ talk earlier on, and then we think maybe Laura was sold to a snuff film. And then we smile because we just thought, “Snuff films are to die for.”
2:04:06 Blonde stole a username and a password from Westray and now she’s giving it to Malkina. Heartbleed him dry.
2:07:43 A jogger puts the bolito on Westray. He’s lost his head.
2:08:16 A GIF of Brad Pitt’s head popping off.
2:10:06 The Counselor receives a home-made DVD with ‘Hola!’ written on it and starts sobbing, either because he knows it’s Penélope / Laura in a snuff film or because the top burning speed is only 4x.
2:10:21 Laura’s corpse shows up in a dump, and that’s not a euphemism for this film.
2:13:50 Cameron Diaz gets the money and escapes to Hong Kong. Roll credits.
- WTF!?’s: 4 serious objections
- When to Follow: The only people who should watch this are those who liked the film Ironweed, but wish it had more drug violence
- What To Feedback: What is the most horrific death of which you’ve heard tell? Leave a comment below!