Film review | The Counsellor

Ridley & Cormac's crime thriller is bleak and brutal, despite the Hollywood gloss.

With Ridley Scott behind the camera and Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt heading a starry A-list cast, novelist Cormac McCarthy’s first original film script has certainly been given lashings of Hollywood gloss. Yet beneath the slick surface, this crime thriller is as bleak and brutal as you would expect from the author of No Country for Old Men and The Road. Fassbender plays the hapless title character, a greedy El Paso lawyer who unwittingly unleashes a cascade of eye-wateringly violent carnage after he gets involved in a scheme to smuggle $21million of cocaine from Mexico into the US. At its best, the movie dazzles. The scenes of decadent high living and gruesomely inventive bloodshed are equally stunning. In between, though, there’s too much talk. And everyone Fassbender encounters – from Bardem’s flamboyant nightclub owner to Pitt’s dapper urban cowboy – appears to be a mouthpiece for McCarthy’s chillingly pessimistic outlook on life.

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Certificate 18. Runtime 117 mins. Director Ridley Scott.

Released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 17th March by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.