The Counselor ★★★

Strong performances from Bardem, Pitt, and Fassbender buoy the critically-maligned Counselor. Fassbender plays a lawyer who decides to get into the drug game, against the advice of his criminal clients / friends.

I enjoyed the first two acts quite a bit, and had this up to 4 stars at one point. The cast is absolutely stacked, and Javier Bardem in particular is awesome. I loved every scene he shared with Fassbender, simply for their conversation and his mannerisms; there's one story he relates to Fassbender involving Diaz's character that had me cracking up. The film is shot beautifully, and characters suitably convey the ruthless danger of getting mixed up with the drug trade.

Things, however, fall apart in the last act. There are plot threads laid out in the first two that fizzle and go nowhere, and new characters (played by recognizable character actors) are introduced late in the movie for one scene and never show up again. You're left wondering why they were there in the first place. Cameron Diaz also is not good in the movie- but I think it's more the over-written and pretentious dialogue she's given than lack of ability. She simply didn't look comfortable saying most of the lines she was required to say, and I think it would be hard for anyone to do so. Finally, I found the ending completely unsatisfying.

It's a shame. Two thirds of the way in I was thinking "man, everyone is wrong, this film is actually pretty great!" I still think it's better than the reputation it has, but some poor script choices really let down what could have been a great crime thriller.