I always thought that Ridley Scott knows damn well how to make movies. But I hated Blade Runner, I was bored out of my skull, and I thought that despite his talent he was much of a big mouth.
With the Counselor, my suspicion became a certainty. His actors are doing a hell of a job, but it's all a garrulous film, where a caricature Cameron Diaz, is lecturing in perfect balderdash about good and evil -being on the evil side of corpse.
Her character, "Malkina", drives the film into the dangerous didactic territory, as, except for an unscrupulous drug-dealer and assassin, she is also the "Nemesis" for the greedy Councelor and his entourage. She is more like a black widow, a female Monsieur Verdoux, who travels around the world spying on weak men lost into "bad business" and steals the hell out of them, in a predator-like action, dictated by her primal/primitive instincts.
The film doesn't have a clear identity as to what genre it wants to fall into, and its "pulpish" character mixes things up, as everybody except low-key "Laura", played by Penelope Cruz, delve into philosophical investigations. Dialogues are marvellous, but I hate all those hard core rogues to have such a capacity in explaining existential issues with subtlety and depth as if their day job was teaching Spinoza's Metaphysics to freshmen at some college. Tarantino made this kind of talk fashionable, but The Councelor had different aspirations and pulp with Wittgenstein is a match made in hell.
His characters, between a cruel reality and one-dimensional fiction could not become what they started out to become. The film, with its tough and depressing theme, remains hovering somewhere between headlines, auteur philosophy and pulp fiction and with all the characters messing their lives and the script up. It's an interesting story, with great actors, a good rhythm, and yet, all this charismatic plethora of wonderful elements does not work to its favour. And I guess it must have been a tough decision to make: philosophize is not enough, and action with deep thought is far too much. Plus the didactic side of the story with a morale analogous in its capacity to terrorize the viewer, to the iconographers of the Middle Ages, who painted Death and human corpses on the murals of the parishes, a well-depicted habit, in Bergman's Seventh Seal.
Also, city-wise, the cinema was not at all ready to accomodate a big number of viewers, ending-up in rude behaviour and a somewhat "uneasy" atmosphere between spectators. If it wasn't for the rain, I would have chosen another theatre.