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Watch: A New Clip From 'The Counselor' As The Ridley Scott Movie Flops

by Rodrigo Perez
October 27, 2013 9:46 AM
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Yep, it was in 3,336 theaters, stars Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz (among myriad other names), was directed by Ridley Scott and written by celebrated American author Cormac McCarthy, but 20th Century Fox's "The Counselor" flopped despite all that star power. We can't say we're totally surprised. Sure, it had the now infamous catfish scene, cheetahs, a terribly awful (or terribly good) Cameron Diaz as an evil black widow with cheetah tattoos, drug deals, beheadings, and more sordidness, but Scott's film—a blisteringly dark, acidic poem about fate, greed and the way we communicate—was just too arty and talky for mainstream audiences (and perhaps too mainstream for the arthouse).

It took in a D Cinemascore rating (which is better than the F many critics predicted), and will come in at #4 with a measly $7.5-ish million when the final box-office tallies arrive this afternoon (and you could try and lay blame at the lack of leading man star power in Fassbender, but you'd be wrong). More in the box-office report later, but it's almost a shame. In theory, "The Counselor" is a project cinephiles were all anticipating, and it's ideally the type of project we want major studios to be making. But so monologue-heavy, overt and repetitive in its themes, and barely containing a character anyone could give a damn about, again, it's not really a shock that audiences didn't cotton to McCathy's script which is beautiful on paper and awkward to hear aloud in practice (many of the characters sound the same, too, all with their dark philosophical bent on the ugliness of human nature or what's coming around the corner that everyone but the clueless protagonist can see). It's a movie one wants to support in theory because it's made for adults, but one can't really argue with someone who complains the picture is a lot of fateful, on-the-nose poetry signifying a whole lot of nothing (how many times can they tell this guy he's going to fail and/or he's now fucked?).

All this is a long-winded way of saying, discuss your thoughts on "The Counselor" below, plus, if you're so inclined, check out this new clip about a wicked weapon in the movie. "The Counselor" is in theaters now. A couple new photos below too.

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  • parkourpub | February 15, 2014 9:07 PMReply

    Maaaaan... I loved this film. Lots of philosophical conversation. GORGEOUS cinematography. Sleek direction. I think it's hard for some to digest because it doesn't follow the traditional movie rules. Clearly, it has other ambitions. On top of that, it moves at a relentlessly swift pace despite being dialogue-based... relying on the viewer's imagination to put the pieces (and more importantly, the motives) together. I think folks who watch a lot of non-American art films might find this film interesting.
    Also, it's very bold in the way a female character is the most intelligent and most powerful player in the film. That's risky but SOOOO fulfilling. I think this film was a great change of pace for Ridley Scott. Nice to see him taking creative risks. I want more!
    Plenty of great quotes too.

  • Mark | October 27, 2013 6:21 PMReply

    edgarwright ‏@edgarwright 1h
    'The Counselor' is Ridley Scott's 'Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia'. If you submit to its death trip, you might have a good time. I did.

  • Bob | October 27, 2013 6:52 PM

    I love you, Edgar Wright. Cult film status in the making.

  • 16w131s | October 27, 2013 5:59 PMReply

    it's like calling a movie that cost $300 million a hit because it makes $200 million. because, you know, $200 million is so much money.


  • 1we6rtf32sd | October 27, 2013 5:55 PMReply

    cost $25 million to make. will turn a profit which is more than many movies can say.

    'counselor' is not a flop. if it were another small indie that made that kind of money nobody would be calling it a flop.

    the writers at playlist are, largely, ill-informed, don't care to be informed, or don't pay attention. in general, you're not worth reading

  • Mark | October 27, 2013 5:29 PMReply

    The Counselor is the most disappointing movie of the year so far. A lineup and premise that looked great on paper and full of potential never really lived up to the billing. There are flaws in execution, from the script, the direction, casting, and finally the performances. It's difficult to determine whether the film is intended as a plot-driven story or a character study. It ultimately fails in either category.

    The narrative is poorly constructed. The story meanders about for the better part of its runtime. There is little investment in the buildup of suspense. Numerous scenes appear insignificant. Characters digress into long-winded passages that lead to nothing. Others are swiftly introduced without offering necessary clarity as to who they are.

  • Mark | October 27, 2013 5:40 PM

    The Counselor illustrates the principle that the medium is as important to the storytelling process as the story itself. This particular story may have been better served as a piece of written literature rather than a motion picture. Streams of consciousness, contemplative passages, and philosophical monologues are more effective in the novel than on the silver screen.

    Cormac McCarthy's brilliant work Blood Meridian is regarded as one of the greatest American novels of the past century, yet many do not consider it to have true cinematic potential. Had The Counselor been conceived as a novel, it may have ultimately been deemed inconceivable as a film as well.

  • DJP | October 27, 2013 5:00 PMReply

    Despite the media's proclamations, Fassbender is not a movie star.
    He is the lead and yes he is partly to blame for the movie's failure. His name
    on a movie poster means nothing to moviegoers.

    See also Colin Farrell and Ryan Reynolds under overhyped actors
    that do not open movies.

  • Lou | October 28, 2013 12:56 PM

    At Denise: The term 'movie star' defines an actor who is capable of 'luring' into theatres moviegoers irrespective of the quality of the film, = box office success. You will be surprised to learn that 'Ryan freaking Reynolds', has a better box office history than Fassbender. Buried, helmed by a unknown Spanish director and produced for 1M, made more than Hunger and Shame put together, while Safe House, with Denzel Washington, made 220M worldwide and is the second highest grossing Washington's movie. Careful with ascribing its success exclusively to Washington ... Two Guns (Washington+Wahlberg) made little more than half that amount. The same goes for The Proposal (Bullock+Reynolds): 317M WW. Because of Bullock? Yes, also, even though we should remember that All About Steve (Bullock+Cooper) made only 40M WW. In conclusion, I think we should stop screaming 'XW is not a movie star' when one of his/her films is financially unsuccessful, otherwise there shall be no 'movie stars' left.

  • Denise | October 28, 2013 11:05 AM

    While you're correct that his name is not yet a draw for mainstream audiences, it's too harsh to proclaim he's not a movie star considering how good an actor he actually is. To include his name next to untalented hacks such as Ryan freaking Reynolds is a total travesty.

    Having said that, the promotional campaign for this movie was a total mess. Based on trailers alone I would not be able to tell you what the movie was about. When you add the polarizing reviews, there is not a big incentive for mainstream audiences to risk their money on this one.

  • Rachael | October 27, 2013 10:04 PM

    I went to see it because of Fassbender. Don't overgeneralize.

  • owdl114 | October 27, 2013 1:29 PMReply

    If I'm not mistaken, that clip seems to contain something of a plot spoiler. Be warned then.

  • Hawke | October 27, 2013 12:08 PMReply

    I remember you saying that the script is amazing. Apparently you just go with the flow and change your opinion every time the general crowd does. Shame on you.

  • J | October 27, 2013 4:08 PM

    A script isn't amazing if it's only good to read and not to shoot. I'm also surprised by all the love shown the script when it's so clearly uncinematic and problem-filled.

  • yer | October 27, 2013 2:47 PM

    The script is amazing though. It's the best one I've read all year. I haven't seen the film yet, but it's a shame Scott apparently muddled the execution.

  • RP | October 27, 2013 1:39 PM

    Really, you remember that? Cause I never read the script until this weekend, but ok then. Maybe you mean another writer that isn't me?

  • Christian Bale's Fan | October 27, 2013 12:23 PM


  • AZ | October 27, 2013 11:35 AMReply

    Something about this film still intrigues, sounds like it's taken some risks in style and possibly hasn't quite been understood.

  • CB | October 27, 2013 11:34 AMReply

    Have you ever read Cormac McCarthy? I mean READ his novels? What did people expect? The film is not for people who is expecting a conventional genre flick - the film is for the alternative adult audience. The Counselor is nihilistic, tragic, dark, bleak, disturbing, gruesome, grizzly, existential, anti-Hollywood, anti-genre, anti-comfort zone. People expecting plot and character details are, I assume, completely missing the point. I believe that McCarthy has crafted a surreal, mythological Greek tragedy disguised as a pulp neo-noir crime story about cartels and drug money. In a way, this is a hardcore art-film and not some conventional genre film. The drug-trafficking is only used as a modern metaphor for greed and it becomes the trap for The Counselor's naivety and thus his nemesis/hubris. I think this will eventually become a cult film kinda like Scarface, Assassination of Jesse James, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, all films that were received with mixed/bad reviews upon release.

  • tyler4all | October 27, 2013 12:36 PM

    from the trailer this looks like a really talky, dialogue-heavy mess. if McCarthy wanted to write a story with people talking their heads off, he should written another novel. just as novels are written with words, movies are written with images. McCarthy is a novelist, he should leave the screenwriting to the screenwriters.

  • ED | October 27, 2013 11:49 AM

    "Have you ever read Cormac McCarthy?" Yep.

    "What did people expect?" A good movie. No one's complaining about how bleak it was.

  • Kenny | October 27, 2013 11:16 AMReply

    The entire film is an allegory for the United States - it's amazing how many people missed that.

  • yer | October 27, 2013 2:47 PM

    Are you confused with Killing Them Softly?

  • Cage | October 27, 2013 1:48 PM

    Ed --> The film is deeper than you think.

  • ED | October 27, 2013 1:40 PM

    And? How does that make this bad movie any good?

  • Susie | October 27, 2013 10:10 AMReply

    I loved the film. I'm really sorry it didn't do well.

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