The Counselor

Out Now On-Demand

Sin is a choice.

Michael Fassbender stars in this Ridley Scott (Prometheus) thriller about a respected lawyer who's one-time dalliance with an illegal business deal spirals out of control. From the mind of Pulitzer Prize winning writer Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men). Co-stars Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt.


Directed by

Written by



Rating: R16 Graphic violence, sex scenes and offensive language


Official Site

Steeped in the heat of the desert and laden with existential musings, The Counselor is a gripping movie-length lesson on why crime doesn't pay, particularly in Mexico. Following Fassbender's titular character as he dips a toe into the drug trade and proceeds to get dragged way out of his depth, it's uncompromisingly bleak but always captivating.

The script, from acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy (his first original screenplay), is dripping with his trademark nihilism. It's wordy, heavy on monologues, and occasionally some of his writerly dialogue can sound a bit clunky, but for the most part the actors sell it as a natural part of the verbose, sweaty world these characters inhabit.

Pitt is well within his comfort zone as a middleman with cowboy affectations, and Bardem excels as a flamboyant kingpin, but it's Diaz who has the most larger-than-life character, a predatory femme fatale who, in the movie's best scene, has intimate relations with a car. Ultimately though she's the weak link, trying out her best scowl but struggling to convey menace, or convincingly deliver some of her trickier lines.

The details of the drug deal that drives the plot are kept somewhat murky, presumably because McCarthy and director Ridley Scott are more interested in the moral repercussions of the drug trade, and the consequences for those involved. The go-for-broke bleakness of the whole thing seems to have re-energized Scott, who manages to avoid the dramatic inertia of his recent films.

There's some portentous foreshadowing that's laid on a bit too thick, and some unsubtle visual metaphors (cocaine is shipped in a sewage tanker, Diaz is adorned with tattooed leopard spots), but they don't detract from the thrust of the film. It's a grim, sometimes sickening story, but it's hard to look away from.

Dissolve (USA)


McCarthy’s voice comes through strongly enough to excuse the film’s excesses and cast its more generic plot elements in a new light.

Empire (UK)


Ridley Scott finally gets to put Cormac McCarthy on the screen. It’s no No Country, but despite its less successful elements is shocking, powerful and — this just in — more gorgeously written than any movie you’ll see this year.

Guardian (UK)


Working as a screenwriter for the first time after years of seeing his novels successfully adapted to the screen, McCarthy is stretching his powers of language and mood – and, all too quickly, stretching his slim story and cast of characters way too far.

Hollywood Reporter


Despite its scaldingly hot cast and formidable writer/director combination, The Counselor is simply not a very likable or gratifying film. In fact, it's a bummer.

Time Out New York


For every camp element like Javier Bardem’s rainbow-vomit outfits or Diaz’s onanistic tryst with a car windshield, there are a dozen poetic-pulp moments that channel McCarthy’s pitiless view of the world to a tee.

Total Film (UK)


An absorbing thriller that favours vivid characters, profound ideas and Old Testament morals over propulsive plotting and set-pieces. With lots of blood.

New York Times


Terrifying, implacable... Mr. Scott’s seriousness isn’t always well served by the scripts he films, but in Mr. McCarthy he has found a partner with convictions about good and evil rather than canned formula.

Variety (USA)


The script is nearly all dialogue, including several eloquent spoken passages toward the end, but it’s a lousy story, ineptly constructed and rendered far too difficult to follow.

Very solid movie

Well I kinda liked it. Saw it on a flight back from SFO, and it was engaging and tense. I'm surprised some people said it bounced around (the film, not the plane), but that showed how 'adrift' the principal character was. The movie stayed with me, long after the flight.


The storyline bounces from character to character and you are guessing what is about to happen next. The fact that the actors performances demand your attention you can pick up on all the hints and you suspect what is looming in the not too distant future, twisted and cunning... You would be silly to get involved. Wouldn't say an enjoyable watch but certainly captivating and clever.

Terribly boring!

The trailer promises excitement, the biggest lie ever!




Shame I wasted money going to see this

Well, the previews looked good, guessing the paid reviewers did their job, but really, this movie was a waste of time, was all over the place, would not recommend it at all.

The Counselor

One of the most promising movies this year. My expectations were high in Ridley Scott and the talented cast including Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem. It's not bad, but considering the amount of potential, The Counselor is a major disappointment. The screenplay, written by acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy is one of the film's highlights. McCarthy is mostly known for his book No Country For Old Men. The Counselor is nowhere near as brilliant as the Coen brothers masterpiece. Michael Fassbender gives a good performance as the counselor. Javier Bardem another ridiculous hairstyle and wears red tinted shades. I would have liked to have seen more Brad Pitt in the movie. Brad Pitt's performance is fantastic and easily the most interesting character. Cameron Diaz's performance is overcooked as the mysterious femme fatale type of character. The Counselor is very violent. It features one of the most shockingly brutal deaths of the year, and one of the most bizarre sex scenes I've ever seen. I found the movie a bit too wordy for my taste and it could have done with some more suspense and thrills. The Counselor is a decent thriller with good acting. Just don't expect too much.


The story goes around and around and halfway through the movie you will probably still think that something wonderful is going to happen, but believe me.... nothing is going to happen! Save yourself the trouble and go and watch something else!

Plot keeps you thinking

I would recommend this movie - Cormac McCarthy is a hard writer to like but his movies always make you think about them for days afterwards - he does do a few long moral conversations which might be a bit much for some .

Don't go if you want something easy to understand although there is enough action in it to keep most people awake

polarising movie leaves me somewhere in the middle

Javier Bardem, Michael Fassbender, and some great lines are not enough to make this a good movie as there are just so many flaws. Cameron Diaz is hopelessly out of her depth (only Keira Knightley would have been a worse casting choice). Cormac McCarthy reaches new misogynist lows and gets carried away with too many monologues. The only award this film deserves is for most ridiculous sex scene... ever.


I really liked the film, the acting was great and every time Bardem or Diaz hit the screen I was mesmerised. having said that - the massive plot holes left me a bit confused and feeling a bit stupid. If I'd known going into it that the pasge of the drugs was nto the story but rather that the fallout was the main point I may have been slightly less confused and annoyed.

I'd totally recommend it despite the confusion though.

Too much already but thanks...

The Counsellor 6/11/13

Well thank goodness I won these tickets. I would have hated to pay money for this move. It did have its moments. Penelope Cruz is beautiful, Cameron Diaz and a car was a wonderful scene. Pitt was Pitt. Some great humour. The baddie from sky fall and bobby sands from hunger. However these belied a movie whose plot was predictable ( nearly everyone is going to die horribly) Diaz is the ultimate baddie with her anarchy life and lack of empathy. My wife left 2/3 of the way through - too much gore and violence. I Stayed but only so I could see it all the way through. The end was a relief. I love Ridley Scott. He can create moments of great beauty. This is not his best work - some brilliance but generally left me cold and frustrated.