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‘The Counselor’s Extended Cut Is Inspired Madness

'The Counselor's Extended Cut Is Inspired Madness

Here’s the first thing you do after purchasing Fox’s Blu-ray of The Counselor: Throw the theatrical version away.

If you like, you can give it to a friend (or an enemy), or donate it to a local home for emotionally disturbed children. But if you didn’t see Ridley Scott’s elegantly poisonous neo-noir in theaters — and, based on its piddling box-office returns, you probably didn’t — there’s no reason to watch the theatrical cut now.

Opting for the longer version of a movie many critics found it tough to sit through in the first place might seem counterintuitive; it’s possible you won’t last 10 minutes, let alone the extended cut’s 138 . But the longer version does more than simply pile excess upon excess, adding more high-gloss treachery, more cryptic philosophy. Right from the first scene, in which a canoodling Michael Fassbender tells Penelope Cruz she has “the most luscious pussy in all of Christendom,” it’s a different, more savage beast. If the theatrical cut was batshit, the extended cut is the bat-shittiest.

Although The Counselor‘s theatrical release was practically a non-event, it’s clear that at some point the studio thought they had a potential hit on their hands: Why else commission a sprawling hybrid of director’s commentary and featurettes that runs a whopping three and a half hours? Scott proclaims himself “a man of few words,” but the cast and crew weigh in at length. (I particularly enjoyed Cameron Diaz’s acknowledgement that Malkina, the cheetah-spotted, car-humping murderess she plays, is “kind of a sociopath.”) Given that The Counselor has already developed a small but intense cult following, this elaborate exegesis will only stoke the fires.

As Mark Hughes points out in Forbes, the extended cut has a more graceful, almost symphonic rhythm, with moments of quick brutality opposed to Cormac McCarthy’s baroque monologues.

The reality of the literal plot’s world merges much better and more dreamlike into the surrealist character conversations, and time and again Scott is using the exposition about life and purpose and consequences as a larger narrative painting of sorts surrounding these select glimpses into the workings of events that will bear down on the characters. Instead of the abrupt tonal shifts I felt in the theater, the characters are given much more time to create the main picture we’re meant to see here, so the editing feels less intrusive and those flashes of pure plot become sharper in their impact because they float as smaller but critical moments amid the much more developed sense of dreamlike experience.

Scott says near the beginning of his commentary that he sometimes has a tendency to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” in editing. Many of the moments that are gone, or shortened, are not hugely significant in and of themselves: Drug smugglers urinate in front of a majestic desert vista; Richard Cabral’s motorcycle courier answers a woman’s friendly inquiry with a shaggy-dog story whose vulgar punchline rivals the best of Jim Thompson. But whittling down the film only served to hollow it out, like a radio edit that strips a pop song down to chorus and verse but loses a transcendent guitar solo in the process. It’s an attempt to render the extraordinary — in whatever sense you choose to take that word — ordinary, and it doesn’t take. Like Willard going upriver in Apocalypse NowThe Counselor is a journey you take to the end or you don’t take at all.

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i liked the theatrical better :)


What was that thing I just watched….? Philosophy, yes, but a plot, or a story or a film , no… dear lord. Cameron Diaz actually radiated in this movie.
I just didn’t get it – is it like some massive joke that there is no plot – it’s all in the philosophy of actions and consequences and it’s basically just super depressing. Don’t bother watching this film. You won’t miss anything. Fassbender is good at acting though.


Great film! The ones who don't like don't like to use their brains in a movie theatre! Way too intellectual for them! The dialogue is great and powerful. After watching it now many times I pick up more and more. It's not so much in plain site and that's good. It makes you THINK and LISTEN! The cast is great. Ridley of course does it again! Favorite director. I will buy the Blu-Ray version to see this extended cut. Sounds great too!


Enjoying my fifth viewing of the extended-unrated cut, still understanding more of the plot, which appears to be a never-ending chore. But worry not! I dig it more each time and the joy of "getting" it is something I don't want to ever end. I may be watching a masterpiece.

George B.

I went and saw that movie….Unfortunately. The words dreadful and horrible come to mind. People talking about nothing and love to hear themselves. Movie bombed cause it stunk and the word got out


Next time Fassbender does a junket (for any movie), someone must, MUST ask him about "the most luscious pussy in Christendom" line.


I'm one of the happy few who really liked the film in the first place, and thought the over-the-top negativity about it was mystifying; so this sounds like terrific news. Can't wait to watch it.

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