Rife with undeniably divisive, talk-heavy exposition, The Counselor is a decidedly off-kilter account of its title character’s (Michael Fassbender) involvement with cross-border drug trafficking. Falling victim to a scheme that puts him and his colleagues in an increasingly precarious position, the key parties must scramble to either right what’s wrong or flee as the last act of soon-to-be dead men.
At once a strength and a weakness, the script’s glaring adherence to McCarthy’s prose mostly adds a special something to The Counselor, philosophical ramblings doing wonders for what’s otherwise a slow-burning exercise permeated by intermittently exploding tensions. While this all rings agreeably unauthentic in the grand scheme of things, exchanges between characters never wholly detract from the film’s appeal as it remains a dark, death-filled and generally sordid affair – a three-part description that could also aptly apply to the drug war serving as The Counselor‘s narrative impetus.
Barring said dialogue and the now-infamous Diaz-on-Ferrari bit everyone can’t help but talk about based on principle, The Counselor is appealingly concise and unflinching in its addressing of the harsh, moreover jarringly violent realities coinciding with Counselor’s greedy walk on the wrong side of the law. It’s assuredly not your typical thrill-a-minute slugfest, however McCarthy and Scott’s respective singularity aid in establishing The Counselor as a unique if polarizing bit of genre cinema, more specifically one that people have slammed based on unmet expectations painted by marketing mishaps.