The Counselor
The Counsellor poster
Directed by Ridley Scott
Produced by Ridley Scott
Nick Wechsler
Steve Schwartz
Paula Mae Schwartz
Written by Cormac McCarthy
Starring Michael Fassbender
Penélope Cruz
Cameron Diaz
Javier Bardem
Brad Pitt
Music by Daniel Pemberton
Cinematography Dariusz Wolski
Editing by Pietro Scalia
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release October 25, 2013
Running time 117 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $25 million
Gross revenue $36,007,762

The Counselor (spelled The Counsellor in some markets) is a 2013 American thriller film directed by Ridley Scott, from the first original film screenplay by Cormac McCarthy. The plot revolves around the troubled Juarez, Mexico / Texas border area and deals with themes of greed, death, and the primal instincts of humans and their consequences. The film also uses strong imagery exhibiting a good versus evil, hunter versus prey, extra-moral, Nietzschean register.

The Counselor was chosen as the closing film at the 2013 Morelia Film Festival and also played the Cork Film Festival. The London premiere was held on October 3, 2013 in Leicester Square. The New York City premiere was held on October 9, 2013. The film has received mixed reviews from critics and was theatrically released on October 25, 2013.


A man, known only as "The Counselor" (Michael Fassbender), and his girlfriend Laura (Penélope Cruz) are lying in bed and speaking to one another in an increasingly suggestive and erotic manner. Meanwhile, somewhere in Mexico, cocaine is packaged in barrels and concealed in a sewage truck, driven across the border and stored at a sewage treatment plant.

After the Counselor goes to Amsterdam to meet with a diamond dealer (Bruno Ganz) to purchase an expensive engagement ring for Laura, he proposes and she accepts. He has expensive tastes, driving a Bentley and wearing elegant suits. At a party thrown by Reiner (Javier Bardem) and girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz), the Counselor discusses a nightclub he and Reiner intend to run, as well as the Counselor's interest in an upcoming drug deal, which would be his first.

The Counselor meets with Westray (Brad Pitt), a business associate of Reiner's. He hears of the deal's four-thousand percent return rate, but Westray warns The Counselor about becoming involved in such a deal, saying that Mexican cartels are merciless. Afterwards, as the Counselor fully resolves to participate in the drug deal, Reiner describes an execution device called "the bolita" which gradually strangles/decapitates the victim.

The Counselor visits a client, a prison inmate named Ruth (Rosie Perez) who is on trial for murder. Ruth's son is a biker and a valued cartel member known as "The Green Hornet" recently arrested for speeding. The Counselor agrees to bail him out of jail.

Malkina, a ruthless criminal herself, employs "The Wireman" (Sam Spruell) to steal the drugs. He does this by decapitating the biker with a wire stretched across the highway. After collecting the component that will allow the sewage truck to start, The Wireman drives to the sewage treatment plant, where he steals the truck containing the cocaine.

Learning of this incident, Westray meets with The Counselor to notify him that The Green Hornet is dead and that the cocaine has been stolen, bleakly intoning The Counselor's culpability. Westray says he is leaving town immediately and suggests The Counselor do the same. Westray explains that the cartel's ruthlessness extends to creating "snuff films" where murder victims are filmed on camera.The Counselor makes an urgent call to Laura, arranging to meet her in another state, where he will explain.

The cartel has learned that The Counselor bailed out The Green Hornet, which appears as suspect timing and fully blameworthy for the putative purposes of the cartel. In Texas, two cartel members pretending to be police officers pull over The Wireman and his accomplice. The accomplice shoots and kills one of the imposter "police officers" and wounds the other. The wounded cartel member manages to kill the accomplice and The Wireman, also gunning down a passing-by driver.

Reiner is accidentally killed by cartel members while attempting to capture him. Laura is then kidnapped. In a last-ditch effort, The Counselor contacts Jefe (Rubén Blades), a high-ranking cartel member, for suggestions on what to do next. Jefe advises The Counselor to live with the choices he has made.

The Counselor goes to Mexico, hoping to find and rescue Laura there. A package is slipped under the door of his hotel room and in it he finds a DVD with "Hola!" written on it, breaking down at the awareness that the disk likely contains an execution video of Laura sent by the cartel. Laura's body is seen being dumped into a landfill.

Malkina's failed effort to steal the drugs means that she is out of the money she wants. She tracks Westray to London, where she hires a woman (Natalie Dormer) to seduce him and steal his bank codes. She then hires accomplices to steal Westray's laptop, and in the process, he's violently killed by the "bolita" device that Reiner had previously described to The Counselor. The movie ends with Malkina meeting her banker (Goran Višnjić) at a restaurant, coolly explaining how she wants her accounts to be handled, then ordering lunch.


  • Michael Fassbender as The Counselor
  • Penélope Cruz as Laura
  • Cameron Diaz as Malkina
  • Javier Bardem as Reiner
  • Brad Pitt as Westray
  • Rosie Perez as Ruth
  • Richard Cabral as The Young Man/The Green Hornet
  • Natalie Dormer as The Blonde
  • Édgar Ramírez as The Priest
  • Bruno Ganz as The Diamond Dealer
  • Rubén Blades as Jefe
  • Goran Višnjić as Michael
  • Toby Kebbell as Tony
  • Emma Rigby as Tony's Girlfriend
  • John Leguizamo as Randy
  • Dean Norris as The Buyer
  • Donna Air as The Chauffeur
  • Fernando Cayo as Abogado Hernandez
  • Sam Spruell as Jaime
  • Carlos Julio Molina as Jose

External links

Cameron Diaz films

The Mask (1994)  ·

Brad Pitt films

Happy Feet 2 (2011)  · 12 Years a Slave (2013)  · The Counselor (2013)  · By the Sea (2015)  ·

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