‘The Counselor’ wastes cast on bleak and indecipherable story

Michael Fassbender in ‘The Counselor.’ Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2013. Rated R, 117 min.

Even the most perceptive movie-goers may have trouble unraveling the complex plot and nearly impenetrable characters in “The Counselor,” a drama full of sex, drugs, graphic violence and unappealing, overwrought dialogue. Writer Cormac McCarthy and director Ridley Scott relish having their fabulously famous cast spout long and cloudy metaphors served up as pretentious faux-philosophy.

Michael Fassbender plays a lead character left so distant from the audience that he remains known only as “the counselor.” This feels cold and off-putting, so you never know if you should trust his intentions with his girlfriend (Penelope Cruz) or shady business partner (Javier Bardem). When the counselor becomes entangled in a massive drug deal gone bad, Brad Pitt shows up as an associate willing to offer advice. Pitt is welcome, mostly because you can figure him out. Cameron Diaz, on the other hand, gets stuck playing a super-sexed super-villain, and it’s not flattering.

“The Counselor” can be appreciated for its high-minded intentions and its commentary on our sad, harsh world, but you will have a tough time finding anything entertaining or enjoyable here.

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