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The last time Javier Bardem was in a movie inspired by Cormac McCarthy, he took on a terrible haircut and won an Oscar for his troubles. Now as the No Country for Old Men star and author reunite and bring a starry cast with them, everyone seems to have taken the haircut advice seriously to heart. In this new international trailer for The Counselor, which showed up today on YouTube, it's a bad-hair standoff between Javier Bardem's insane Brian Grazer mane and Brad Pitt's scraggly mess. Toss in Cameron Diaz's super-coiffed ice queen do and, well, it's a lot of beautiful people looking less than beautiful, which in Hollywood often counts as Great Acting.
But what The Counselor seems to be offering above an acting showcase is a razor-sharp crime story, par for the course for fans of McCarthy, who is writing his first original screenplay here after seeing his novels All The Pretty Horses, The Road and No Country adapted for the screen. It's also Ridley Scott's first crime drama since American Gangster, and the timing of that return is likely no mistake. His last three films Prometheus, Robin Hood and Body of Lies have all been expensive boondoggles to one degree or another, and while American Gangster was expensive too, it was also a big critical hit. Ridley Scott has never been afraid to hop genres, but crime stories tend to serve him well-- and when he can assemble a group of actors this blindingly famous, it sure can't hurt.
While we're still mostly unable to parse through this plot-- how does Cameron Diaz wind up threatening Penelope Cruz, and is there a Vanilla Sky reference somewhere in there that we're missing? -- let's just focus on the actors, and who ought to steal the most attention when The Counselor opens October 25. Michael Fassbender is obviously at the center of things as the titular counselor and the guy in way over his head, but his strengths aren't generally in the "everyman" kind of roles-- just look at his scary and intense work in the trailer for 12 Years A Slave. Brad Pitt is doing his grease ball enforcer thing, which could be interesting-- anybody see Killing Them Softly last year?-- but probably doesn't stand a chance at drowning out the biggest potential scene-stealers here, Bardem and Diaz. What's crazier-- the spiky hair or the leopard print bak tattoo? Which one of them is more dangerous-- and more fun to watch? Diaz has more to gain by going balls-to-the-wall-- she doesn't have her Oscar for playing a villain yet-- but underestimating Bardem is a quick way to get into trouble. I wouldn't dare choose between the two of them at this point.
The Counselor had been looking like an awards contender for a while given its cast and release date, and still might be, but for now it's looking like a pulpier alternative to the bigger prestige fall stuff. Especially in the middle of these dregs of August, October 25 can't come fast enough.