‘The Counselor’: A Lawyer’s Misguided Foray into Drug Trafficking

By Kristina Skorbach, Epoch Times
October 16, 2013 Updated: October 16, 2013

Featuring an A-list cast, including Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Michael Fassbender, this year’s drama-thriller “The Counselor” focuses on the dangers involved in drug trafficking and the naive lawyer, known as the Counselor, who gets involved.

Based on facts and figures, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy made his screenwriting debut with the film.

McCarthy calls the central character a “decent guy who gets up one morning and decides to do something wrong.” He said that most tragedies need only one character to make one wrong decision to make a good story. 

In a recent interview, renowned producer Ridley Scott said the good writing and the story’s darkness drew him in, adding that a moral tale underlies it. 

“There’s a moral behind everything,” he said about McCarthy’s work, though Scott tries to avoid calling a film a moral tale, fearing that audience will prematurely label it as boring. 

Michael Fassbender plays the Counselor, whose innocent fiancé is played by Oscar-winning actress Penélope Cruz. Although the Counselor, a lawyer who decides to dabble in drug trafficking, doesn’t realize what he’s getting himself into, his one mistake leads to tragic and violent consequences for the two. 

“If there wasn’t violence in this, it wouldn’t really ring true in the subject matter,” Fassbender said about the drug lords’ brutality.

Cruz said she’s typically not interested in starring in film with violence because of the way the subject gets downplayed, as if in “a video game.”

“In this movie, when you watch those scenes, it hurts to watch them, and that’s what should happen,” she said. 

Although she agrees with Fassbender that movies need not necessarily provide a moral compass, she said The Counselor raises an important subject of Mexican drug cartels.

Scott’s vision was to stay true to the facts of the drug trafficking, and said that “everything in this film exists,” noting that the shocking numbers of victims pulled into drug mobs are factual.