The Counsellor's screenplay comes courtesy of novelist of the moment Cormac McCarthy (Child of God, The Road) and the all star cast plus a high powered director seemed to promise something special. Despite the hype that this was McCarthy's first original screenplay, this is only partially true. No Country for Old Men was first written as a screenplay and then converted into a novel after it failed to sell, before the Coens stumbled onto it. McCarthy has given his character some wonderful lines, but these are subsumed by the swathes of philosophical McCarthy-speak. Bardem and Pitt manage to make something of it, but Cameron Diaz is made to look frankly ridiculous, not withstanding the rumoured dub which took out a distracting Argentine accent.
Although McCarthy's plot is intentionally obfuscated, what we do see is just outrageously dumb. Like watching a college professor break dance, this is cleverness doing what it doesn't understand. And yet the look of the film is gorgeous, with Scott creating something like a homage to his late brother's best work (Tony Scott took his life during the film's production). There's a beguiling oddness to the whole affair, an atmosphere of glossy dread and foreboding. Ultimately, The Counsellor fits into Scott' filmography beside 1492, Black Rain and Someone to Watch Over Me; a technically accomplished though flawed effort, which nevertheless demands repeat viewing if only to satisfy the lingering suspicion that in there somewhere is a really good film.