Ridley Scott's crime thriller The Counselor is a slick, but bleak, look at the hazards — moral, economic, spiritual and physical — of joining a business venture as attractively lucrative as drug-running. There's big money, particularly in the cartel-driven enterprise on the Texas-Mexico border, but it's also fair to say that few get out intact. And in a film penned by Cormac McCarthy (The Road, No Country for Old Men), one should come girded for poor outcomes and violence, delivered impassively and creatively.
Michael Fassbender plays the titular counselor, who for unexplained reasons (the film is short on backstories), jumps in the deep end of the drug pool. He's soon dog-paddling furiously with a cold-eyed power beauty (Cameron Diaz), her boyfriend and frontman (Javier Bardem, rocking another terrible hairdo!) and a cagey middleman (Brad Pitt).
This is mostly a talky affair, with characters spouting epigrams about power, and not much action — just one shoot-out, a tepid car chase and two severe neck injuries.
If your taste in crime dramas runs toward philosophizing gangsters, beautiful people (lounging in amusingly tacky sets) and nihilistic outcomes, you should find this A-list ensemble piece satisfying (in the expected unsatisfying manner). Says one wise survivor: "The world where you made the mistake is different from the world where you now want to fix the mistake." Or to put it in the vernacular, "Good luck with that."