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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
While there's some positive messages about love overcoming greed, the overall tone is dark and depressing.
Positive Role Models
Penelope Cruz plays a girlfriend who loves purely and give of herself freely. Everyone else is a mixed bag, but most are involved in the drug trade and treading a morally suspect path.
Violence & Scariness
An overwhelming sense of dread runs throughout the film. A few characters are beheaded in nasty ways, their headless bodies shown. A dead body is seen shoved in a oil drum. Gunfights, sometimes at close range, lead to many deaths and the bodies are shown bloody and mangled, up close. A woman is abducted and a man is shown hitting her. Characters discuss in detail how people are tortured and killed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The movie starts with a scene depicting oral sex; there's no genitalia visible, but there's a man's head between a woman's legs and it's clear what's happening. In another scene, a woman is shown taking off her underwear and rubbing against a car, to climax.
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Plenty of profanity, including "s--t," "ass," "son-of-a-bitch," "damn," hell," "p---y", and lots of uses of "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
Apple products are visible, as are Ferrari, Porsche, Yamaha, and Ford vehicles. Maalox is used.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of social drinking, usually hard liquor. The film is about a drug deal gone awry so characters are shown smuggling cocaine. A character mentions needing Oxy-Contin.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this dark, fairly compelling drama featuring a star-studded cast -- Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz -- is best for the oldest of teens and adults, who won't likely be overwhelmed by the bleakness and graphic violence in it. Some sex scenes, though not showing genitalia, are fairly graphic in setup, depicting couples having oral sex and, in one scene, a fetishistic act. Characters swear often ("bitch" and "f--k"). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Ridley Scott is a stylish director, and he swabs a glossy sheen over THE COUNSELOR that he then systematically destroys once he's in too deep. It's a punishing process that leaves the audience at the edge of their seats, but exhausted and a little confused, too. Crowded with personalities large and quite possibly deranged, The Counselor attacks the senses like a well-timed hit, but the comedown is harsh. Scott's a master at creating an overwhelming sense of foreboding, especially when violence is just around the corner, but it's nearly unrelenting and, as a result, fatigues. Without room to breathe, the audience can't appreciate the artistry.
Cormac McCarthy, who wrote the screenplay, lives in a bleak, depressing world, and draws fascinating, complicated characters that make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. But his Counselor seems oddly naive for a lawyer who works in a challenging profession -- how many warnings does he need? -- and the dialogue, though displaying a wit and intelligence few scripts possess, seems better on paper than said and heard out loud. (They're spoken like finely honed paragraphs.) Also, we get too many hints of what lies ahead, as if Scott wanted to make sure we were paying attention. In the end, we are left with too many questions, one of which is central to the story: Why did the Counselor stray from his usual path? And this: Do we care enough to puzzle it out?
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate