I have long maintained that Ghost Rider is the worst movie, if not ever (I haven’t seen every movie after all) then at least in recent history. I’m sure many people would argue that there are tons of worse films, and in terms of basic ineptitude they are no doubt right (straight to DVD anyone?). But I feel that in order to rank as actual WORST, you have to go beyond bad dialogue and plot and special effects (if relevant) and acting. You also have to factor in the talent of the people involved. Sure, Joe Suburbs who just graduated film school is going to crank out some fine schlock with his moms camcorder. But what did you expect? It is only when you have a truly acceptable roster of talent involved- and say what you will about his many horrible films, Nicholas Cage does actually have talent, if poor financial management and discretion in choosing roles- only then can you really manage to make a place holding worst film.
And I think we have a new champion.
Enter, The Counselor.
. Michael Fassbender
. Penelope Cruz
. Javier Bardem
. Ridley Scott
. Cormac McFreakinCarthy
. Seriously. Not people you typically expect drivel from (you’ll notice I didn’t mention Cameron Diaz
, who is also in this movie but maybe doesn’t inspire quite as lofty expectations. Sorry, Cameron). Honestly, after ending that sentence I just sat staring at the cursor blinking for five minutes because I don’t even know what to say about this film. It’s not that it is bad (which it is), it’s that it is so incomprehensibly bad I almost can’t find words to explain it.
The basic plot is fine: lawyer gets tangled up in illicit business and dragged down when everything goes wrong. Various duplicitous characters abound. At least, I think that’s what it was about. Because literally not one word of dialogue explains what is happening in this movie. Half of the expansive monologues don’t even seem to be related to the scene they are in. It is actually quite remarkable I have made such a disconnect between exposition and plot propulsion and actual reality and coherence. I think I would have followed the movie better if it had been in German. Or on mute.
The closest thing I can think to relate it to is when Joey tried to write a recommendation letter for Monica and Chandler to adopt (on Friends, which I hope I didn’t really need to tell you). His letter originally said “they are warm caring people with big hearts” but he used a thesaurus on every word and so ended up with “they are humid prepossessing homo sapiens with full size aortic pumps.” And yes, I did that from memory.
The dialogue in this movie is similar, except with an element of self absorbed pretension thrown in. Multiple characters wax poetic on various “deep” topics in oblique and entirely nonsensical speeches. I would love to give you some examples, but the words were so insanely thrown together I couldn’t remember a sentence I just heard well enough to recreate it, even as it was happening. I’m actually impressed Mr. McCarthy (in his very first original screenplay) managed to write 2 hours worth of dialogue and never once even hint at what was going on, much less offer a coherent thought. It’s an accomplishment for sure, just not one I’d recommend paying to witness.
The movie also features the most ridiculous, far fetched, unerotic sex scene probably ever (which, to be fair might have been the point), as well as an incredibly inventive, if gruesome death. But boiled down the primary issue rests solely on the writer. If you could redub all the dialogue with relevant, coherent subject matter, you’d be left with only a sub par movie. As it stands it is a triumph of mind boggling confundity. I would definitely recommend you see this film, if only to have a new bar against which to measure all future terrible movies. But don’t pay for it in the theater, wait for it to come out on DVD.
It won’t be long.
The Counselor R 117 minutes