DVD Release Date: February 11, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: October 25, 2013
Rating: R (for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language)
Genre: Drama/Crime
Run Time: 117 min.
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Rosie Perez

Celebrated novelist Cormac McCarthy has never been one for writing feel-good stories. From the disturbing No Country For Old Men, which earned four Academy Awards in 2007 including Best Picture, to the grim post-apocalyptic tale, The Road, his work has still made for some pretty thrilling cinema.

Now with The Counselor, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is venturing into brand new territory by adapting his own work. Trouble is, while screenplays are decidedly different from their literary counterparts because the writer is given freedom to show and tell, success still hinges upon thoughtful exposition and character development. Unfortunately, The Counselor is sorely lacking in both, so the end product is basically a frustrating cautionary tale on how getting mixed up in drug trafficking doesn't pay. Does anyone really need to watch a movie to learn that?

Even with a gaggle of A-list talent onboard, including director Ridley Scott (Prometheus) who usually provides a reliable eye for memorable visuals (he does here, too, but for all the wrong reasons), The Counselor is nothing more than a head-scratching string of scenes that don't propel the threadbare narrative forward. Worse yet, McCarthy never gives the viewer a reason to care. Never have characters been this unlikable or inconsequential.

The "plot" involves a lawyer (Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave) who's never called by any other name but "Counselor" for the duration of the film. For someone smart enough to make it through law school, pass the Bar and defend people in precarious legal situations, Counselor, like the hapless protagonists who inevitably meet their grisly end in your average horror movie, stunningly ignores numerous warnings about the "one-time" drug smuggling adventure he's about to embark upon.

And considering the ethics of the people offering their two cents, namely Counselor's shady, larger-than-life clients Reiner (Javier Bardem, Skyfall), his leopard-loving gal pal Malkina (Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day) and one very greasy middleman Westray (Brad Pitt, World War Z), one would assume Counselor would at least weigh his options. But for whatever reason, sheer stupidity or otherwise, Counselor believes he can emerge unscathed. As it turns out, Counselor's end game is obtaining a quick but hefty payout so he can run off into the sunset with his beloved fiancée Laura (Penélope Cruz, To Rome With Love).