Here’s the thing: This movie has a brilliant screenwriter: Cormac McCarthy is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and is, without question, one of the country’s greatest living writers. He may very well be too talented for film. His use of metaphor and symbolism often replace the plot thread and his flowery (and exceptionally beautiful) prose are a challenge for any actor to own. So, sadly, what we have here is an A-list cast, director and screenwriter, and a B- movie.
I’m going to tell you what I think happens, although I’m not convinced I’m right. The Counselor (Michael Fassbender), a public defender with money problems, has come up with an unconventional way to eliminate his debt. He gets involved in some sort of drug deal, and it is painfully obvious he doesn’t have any idea what he’s getting himself into.
His drug-dealer mentor is Reiner (Javier Bardem), a happy-go-lucky trafficker who seems to grasp the fleeting nature of success in his business. His mistress, Malkina (Cameron Diaz), is a worldly (that’s putting it kindly) survivor whose involvement in events is blurry. The counselor also gets some friendly advice from the mysterious Westray (Brad Pitt). I don’t mean mysterious in the cloak-and-dagger sense, I mean in the literal sense. His purpose, other than to predict our protagonist's demise, is a mystery.
Honestly, I feel like I paid to see a movie about the alphabet and they showed me H, I, J, K, L and M, and everybody knows those are the boring letters. The acting is first-rate, although Cameron Diaz seems to have far more miles on her than her 41 years would indicate. In any event, for a movie with Oscar potential, I can only describe it as disappointing. It’s a 5.