The Counselor is a milestone event of a film, as it marks the screenwriting debut of Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of books like The Road and No Country for Old Men – who is arguably one of the best American writers living today. That’s a lot of expectation to live up to – especially in the wider and more savage arena of feature-filmmaking. But with a directing heavyweight like Ridley Scott in his corner, not to mention an all-star cast (more an them later), McCarthy certainly has the foundation under him to make an impressive debut on the Hollywood scene.
For the uninitiated: there are two main topics that McCarthy tends to favor in his writing: rumination on the south/southwest region of the United States, and rumination on the darkness and violence that lies in the hearts of human beings. The Counselor looks to continue in that proud McCarthy tradition on both counts, and this new trailer reveals just how dark the ride will get.
In The Counselor, Michael Fassbender stars as a respected lawyer living in the Southwest, who tries to take a quick dive into the drug business to make a quick buck. Of course, once he has crossed the border (literally and figuratively) into the dark world of greed and violence, he discovers that even a quick glimpse into the abyss is enough get yourself swallowed by the darkness.
In addition to Fassbender, The Counselor stars Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris, John Leguizamo, Rosie Perez, Game of Thrones‘ Natalie Dormer and Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz as two femme fatales. All in all an impressive cast. On the filmmaking side of things: the washed-out shadowy tones of Dariusz Wolski’s (Prometheus, Pirates of the Caribbean) cinematography look to be a suitable match for the pared-down and brutal prose of McCarthy’s writing, and the direction looks pretty good overall, with some clever visual ideas.
However, based on the clips, it is clear that The Counselor will also follow the tradition of McCarthy’s books, which are often punctuated by almost stage play-esque scenes of conversation. The author’s style is arguably comparable to Tarantino – if Tarantino hung around academics, intellectuals and scientists, that is. Some moviegoers might be thrown by such an experience, in the same way that McCarthy’s brutally clean prose has only now and again struck a cord with the mainstream.
Still, The Counselor looks like an interesting experiment, to say the least, and could turn out to be one of the best crime dramas to come along in some time. Or, it could be the next Killing Them Softly on Brad Pitt’s resume (read: heavy-handed “talkie” disguised as a crime flick). We’ll see.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.