'The Counselor' - A Violent Film about Greed, Drugs and Misery

Matt Vespa
By Matt Vespa | November 12, 2013 | 4:56 PM EST

Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy unite to bring audiences a tale of violence, drugs, and misery in The Counselor.  McCarthy, known for No Country For Old Men, wrote the screenplay to this sordid story, which isn't for the faint-hearted.  If you're expecting a happy ending, this isn't the move for you.

Driven by greed, the protagonist played by Michael Fassbender, known only as The Counselor, decides to take up an offer made to him by an old friend a couple of years ago; a drug deal with a 4,000% rate of return.   His friend, Reiner (Javier Bardem) sets it up, along with another middleman, Westray, played by Brad Pitt.

Westray warns the Counselor of the dangers involved with this business opportunity, as he knows the world of narcotics is the epitome of brutality.   The Counselor is unfazed - and the deal is set into motion.

Enter Malkina, played by Cameron Diaz, who is the cold, calculating, and sociopathic girlfriend of Reiner.  She plots to steal the drugs - and has zero moral empathy.  For all you No Country For Old Men fans, she's a female version of Anton Chigurh, and seeks to destroy anyone who gets in her way.  If anything, she's the most intelligent character of the entire movie.  Being in control at all times.

As you can expect, things go awry; the Counselor's fiancé, tragically portrayed by Penelope Cruz, is kidnapped; and Westray and Reiner flee.  As the Counselor's entire world comes crashing down, he's left with the horrible pain of the decisions he's made, the lives he's destroyed, and the unbearable feeling that all of this could've been prevented.  Nevertheless, no one can stop the downward spiral.

The film is a graphic - and merciless - depiction of the drug trade.  Much like No Country For Old Men, everything is set into motion based on the choices the protagonist makes in the beginning of the film - and their tragic consequences.

It's a brutal, unrelenting tale of misery.  Nonetheless, not everything in life is good; not everything in life ends with a happy ending.  McCarthy and Scott's collaboration is a sledgehammer to the face of the typical theme of good triumphing over evil.   In The Counselor, evil is not only unstoppable, it's everywhere.

Regardless, Pitt, Diaz, Bardem, Fassbender, and Cruz deliver exceptional performances.

A word of caution: the film is rated R for graphic sexuality, extreme violence and subject matter. If you do go see it, you'll probably only watch it once.