Friday, June 22, 2018

Review: 'Counselor' part guilty pleasure and mostly disappointing mess

Half-baked and only mildly entertaining, The Counselor is a guilty pleasure at its best and a muddled mess at its worst. It is also more of a lifeless drama than it is the enthralling drug cartel crime thriller it has been marketed as.

The counselor (Michael Fassbender), a nameless lawyer who gets involved in drug trafficking, puts himself and his fiancee, Laura (Penelope Cruz), in danger when his first drug deal goes horribly wrong. Desperate for options, he looks to Reiner (Javier Bardem) and Westray (Brad Pitt), two experienced drug traffickers on his end of the deal, for help. Meanwhile, Reiner is beginning to grow suspicious of his mysterious lover, Malkina (Cameron Diaz).

The film is way longer than it needs to be due to countless excesses and ridiculously slow pacing, and the first half is bogged down by boring, shallow romance. Most of the conversations drag on for what feels like an eternity and move the plot absolutely nowhere. The action sequences, on the other hand, lack dramatic buildup and are short-lived, so the viewer's adrenaline is dead before it ever starts pumping.

This film marks author Cormac McCarthy's first attempt at writing directly for the screen. He should probably stick to books. His script has all the characteristics of writing that only works on paper, setting the film up for failure. The story is simultaneously underdeveloped and all over the place, and the dialogue tries too hard to be poetic, instead coming across as pretentious and contrived. It is hard to believe McCarthy also wrote the ingeniously chilling novel that the film No Country for Old Men is based on. One of the script's few strengths is its comedic moments, such as a funny story Reiner tells about Malkina and his car.

The characters are exceptionally bland despite a fantastic cast that delivers, so the film is only moderately rescued by Fassbender, Bardem and Pitt. Diaz sticks out as the weakest performance, and Cruz plays the dullest character with the least time on screen, making it hard to criticize her. This film is the definition of wasted talent.

Director Ridley Scott did a much better job with last year's Prometheus. He has mastered the style of sci-fi with his distinctive lighting and smooth cinematography, but he fails to bring anything remotely as interesting to The Counselor. From the way it was written to the way it was directed, the film lacks the panache viewers might expect from a story about a drug deal gone wrong.

Though a couple of brief action sequences keep the viewer awake, The Counselor has little else to offer. Just as its excellent cast is wasted, so too are a few potentially memorable scenes in the context of a forgettable film.

Mark Mukherjee is a senior at King High.

Comments
Murman files to run for Clerk of the Court in 2020

Murman files to run for Clerk of the Court in 2020

TAMPA – Two weeks after her surprise withdrawal from the race for a Hillsborough County Commission seat, Republican Commission Chairwoman Sandy Murman dropped another political bombshell Friday by filing to run for Clerk of the Circuit Cou...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
A new wave: Florida voters will have many more choices on 2018 ballot

A new wave: Florida voters will have many more choices on 2018 ballot

TALLAHASSEE — Florida may or may not see a blue wave this fall, but it's already experiencing a new wave.A torrent of new candidates for seats in the state Legislature, many of them Democratic women, qualified by Friday's deadline to give voter...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Three Republicans seek to replace Corcoran in top Pasco County legislative race

Three Republicans seek to replace Corcoran in top Pasco County legislative race

The top partisan race on the Aug. 28 ballot in Pasco County is the battle to succeed outgoing Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, who can not run again because of term limits. The contest features a three-person Republican primary...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Moody’s upgrades Florida to its highest credit rating

Moody’s upgrades Florida to its highest credit rating

Moody's Investors Service announced it is upgrading the state of Florida to its highest credit rating, citing "sustained" improvement in the state's economy and a "proven track record of rebounding from severe weather events."The rating agency said T...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But that was all in...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Convicted St. Pete heroin supplier gets 25 years in federal prison

Convicted St. Pete heroin supplier gets 25 years in federal prison

TAMPA — A federal judge ordered a 25-year prison term Friday for a man convicted of running an organization that moved large quantities of heroin into St. Petersburg.The sentencing of William Harold Wright punctuated a criminal case that was emblemat...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
State Sen. Wilton Simpson to face competitor for the first time

State Sen. Wilton Simpson to face competitor for the first time

For the first time ever, District 10 State Sen. Wilton Simpson, who represents Hernando and Citrus counties and parts of Pasco County, will face an opponent in his try for reelection to the Florida Senate.Democrat Michael Cottrell, whose wife an...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Newcomers seek to topple incumbents in Pinellas School Board races

Newcomers seek to topple incumbents in Pinellas School Board races

Thirteen candidates will vie for four seats on the Pinellas County School Board this year, as the two hopefuls qualified just before Friday's noon deadline.Three incumbents, including the board's leader and vice chair, aim to keep their seats amid a ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Newcomers seek to topple incumbents in Pinellas School Board races

Newcomers seek to topple incumbents in Pinellas School Board races

Thirteen candidates will vie for four seats on the Pinellas County School Board this year, with two hopefuls qualifying just before Friday's noon deadline.Three incumbents, including the board's leader and vice chair, aim to keep their seats amid a r...
Updated: 1 hour ago
There are four Hillsborough school board races. Three could go to runoffs.

There are four Hillsborough school board races. Three could go to runoffs.

TAMPA — Longtime Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned to run for the State House, leaving four board seats up for grabs this election season.The District 4 seat is a two-way contest between incumbent Melissa Snively and...
Updated: 1 hour ago