Under the Radar

Is 'The Counselor' a Disaster or Future Lost Classic?

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The Counselor has resurfaced on Blu-ray after bombing last fall in theaters. The movie features stars after stars: Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Penélope Cruz with an screenplay by tough guy literary hero Cormac McCarthy and direction by the legendary Ridley Scott.

The movie has gotten what amounts to a radical makeover in a new extended cut that gets its own disk in the package. The revised film is twenty minutes longer and many of the scenes have been reshuffled in light of the extra material. That doesn't really make the movie any less strange or challenging but it should help The Counselor find a few more hardcore fans who might corner you in a bar to recount the entire thing start to finish.

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The plot suggests a big, sleazy crime movie: Fassbender plays a lawyer (who's always referred to as "counselor" and never gets a name) who gets caught up in a deal with the Mexican drug cartel that goes very wrong. There's a lot of violence in the story and not much suspense.

This is McCarthy's first original story for the screen, but his novels were the basis for modern classics All the Pretty Horses and No Country for Old Men. While the revamped version of the The Counselor doesn't differ from the theatrical version as much as the director's cut of Blade Runner does from the one we first saw in theaters, this is definitely another case where Scott's vision trumps the studio's commercial imperatives.

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There's also a 3 1/2 director's commentary that inserts 13 "making of" featurettes into the flow of the movie. Watching the movie that way leaves no doubt that everyone involved believed in what they were doing. In spite of some aggressively negative reviews, The Counselor is one of those weird movies that sticks with you. Ten years from now, don't be surprised if you're reading epic reevaluations of a movie everyone's decided is a lost classic.

 

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