ICYMI: Ridley Scott, of Blade Runner and Alien, made a movie with Cormac McCarthy, author of No Country for Old Men, The Road, and Blood Meridian, last year. It's called The Counselor, and lots of people didn't like it. (Currently at 34% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is almost as rough as Labor Day, a movie that's mostly about pie sex.)
But The Counselor, out today on Blu-ray and DVD, and available on Digital HD as well, is awesome. It's awesome because you can see exactly why it frustrated so many viewers. It doesn't move along a typical plot track; you'll find no familiar action movie or thriller beats here. It's a movie made to resemble no other movies. It's talky, but Scott's direction is bold enough that it doesn't feel like a filmed play. Indeed, the long conversations—punctuated by moments of shocking violence—are the draw here.
If you've been loving HBO's True Dectective and its purple dialogue, you owe it to yourself to watch Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, and Michael Fassbender work their way through the knotted sentences of one of America's great novelists. Everyone talks about death. In fact, the entire movie is about the ways you die, how you fare in the face of the ultimate ending. It's like True Detective, but everyone sounds like Matthew McConaughey's character, and they have a lot more fun in the process.
Ridley Scott matches McCarthy's style of writing with a glittering cast of A-list stars. The excess is everywhere. There are wild animals, violent decapitations, expensive cars, pool parties that would make Michael Bay jealous, motorcycles, absurdist conversations about shipping bodies in barrels back and forth across international borders, and graphic sex scenes that don't always include people. (Hint: they include cars.)
Scott's cinematogrphy is as cool as Cameron Diaz watching her pet cheetahs hunt rabbits. He'll overcrank his camera for a slow motion gunfight the same way Javier Bardem applies gel to his hair: slow and with extreme care.
But the dialogue wins the day. These are chewier conversations than the pseudo-philosophy spouted off on True Detective. They're both on the nose and oblique, like the delicate conversation early in the film about the flaws in diamonds. You have a grasp on the metaphor, and then it swims away. It's beguiling.
Of course, as the exclusive clip above explains, all credit goes to Cormac McCarthy, who is such a soldier at age 80 that he regularly showed up on set to observe. Must've been fun.
The Counselor is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD right now.