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The Counselor [2013] [R] - 7.7.8



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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A man (Michael Fassbender) finds himself in financial difficulties and decides to pursue a risky avenue to make some quick money. When things go horribly wrong, he is left to suffer the consequences of his actions. Also with Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Bruno Ganz, Brad Pitt and Rosie Perez. Directed by Ridley Scott. [1:57]

SEX/NUDITY 7 - A man and a woman lie in bed together completely covered by sheets as we hear them talking and see their bodies moving toward each other; the point-of-view changes to under the sheets where we see them kiss and talk; the man asks the woman what she wants him to do to her and she describes explicitly what she wants as he moves his hand between her legs and then moves his head between her legs where he performs oral sex on her as she moans and writhes (the man's bare shoulders and upper chest are seen and the woman's bare thigh to the knee is seen).
 A man describes an incident where his girlfriend had sex with his car and we see the act re-enacted: The woman removes her panties (we see her legs bare to the upper thigh), and crawls up the hood of the car while the man was in the passenger seat watching through the windshield; the woman straddles the windshield in a split (we see her bare legs to the thigh and bare buttocks when her dress pulls up) and thrusts (she moans and the man watches with his mouth agape), she leans over the windshield, kisses the man, and then climaxes.
 A woman wears a tight-fitting, low cut and very short dress that reveals cleavage and her bare thighs nearly to the buttocks. Several men wear tight-fitting T-shirts and shorts that reveal the outlines of their torsos and bare legs from the mid-thigh down. Women wear bikinis and dance around a swimming pool at a party (bare abdomens, cleavage, bare backs and part of bare buttocks are seen). A woman wears a low-cut top that reveals cleavage. A woman wears a deep-cut shirt that reveals cleavage as she bends over in front of a man to serve him a beer. Women wear low-cut dresses that reveal cleavage in several scenes. A woman wears skin-tight leather pants that accentuate her figure. A woman wears a tight-fitting dress that reveals one bare shoulder and arm. A man's shirt hangs open and we see part of his bare chest and abdomen.
 A woman caresses another woman's arm and back as they lie nude (covered with towels) on chaises and talk about sex. Two men hug in greeting.
 A man agrees to do a favor for a woman (they are lawyer and client) and he says she owes him; she offers him oral sex and he declines saying that she'd still owe him. Two women talk about sex and one asks the other about confession and whether the priest asks about her sex life. A man talks about himself and another man sharing "a taste for exotic women and sometimes even sharing the same woman." A man proposes marriage to a woman and she accepts; he tells her, "I intend to love you until I die." A man says that a woman having sex with his car "was too gynecological to be sexy."
 A man and his fiancée talk on the phone and he makes a remark about pulling down her panties, and then asks her, "Is this phone sex?" A man tells a woman while they are in bed together, "You are a sexy woman." A man tells asks a woman while they are in bed together, "Tell me something sexy" and the woman replies, "I want you to put your hand up my dress." A woman straddles a man seated on a chair and he tells her that she is "sexy." A woman tells a man that a place is a "Pit of sexual abandon." A woman in bed with a man says, "You've ruined me" and he says, "I hope so." A man talks about a relationship ending because his partner was getting more sex than he was (implication of bisexuality). A man refers to himself as being good at sex, using crude terms. A woman says that priests have an unusual picture of women and that they must think that they have sex all the time. A man tells his fiancée that "life is being in bed with you and everything else is just waiting."
 Two presumably nude women lie on their stomachs with towels covering most of their breasts and buttocks (we see bare shoulders, upper chest and side of bare breast, cleavage as well as bare back to the hip).

VIOLENCE/GORE 7 - A man runs behind another man on a sidewalk and wraps a cable device around his throat; the device begins to tighten as he struggles to hold it, he falls to the ground as the cable cuts his carotid arteries and blood sprays on people standing around him; the fingers on one of his hands are severed and he lays dying (his body twitches and blood sprays). A man drags a cable across a desert road, tightens it and waits for a motorcyclist to speed along the road and crash into the cable; we see the rider's head cut off (blood sprays) and we see the dead body and severed head (still in the helmet) slide along the road; the man who set up the trap shakes the helmet and the head falls out and rolls on the ground (we see more blood and matter at the neck).
 A truck is pulled over by police and one man in the truck shoots one of the officers (he falls dead and we see blood on the wounds); the other officer opens fire and is shot in the leg as he runs for cover; the gunman and the officer shoot at each other until the gunman is shot in the head (blood spurts) and the driver of the truck is shot through the door (we see blood spray onto the windshield); a motorist arrives at the scene and attempts to speed away but is shot and drives off the road dead (blood sprays in the car).
 A man in an SUV is chased by men in two other SUVs: he speeds along desert roads and eventually drives off the road and is t-boned; he gets out of the car while shooting at the other drivers and running, they shoot at him and he is struck in the buttock (we see blood on his pants), then the head (we see blood and matter) and he falls to the ground where one of the gunmen kicks him a couple of times.
 A woman in a parking garage is followed by a man on foot and another man in a car; the woman runs and the man chases her, trips her, she kicks him and screams and he punches her in the face and throws her into the car where she screams and cries. A man describes "snuff films" and one that shows a young woman crying while looking into the camera as "her head was lopped off." A man describes a killing device that tightens a cable around a victim's neck until it cuts the carotid arteries and "sprays blood over the spectators," and eventually decapitates the victim. A man talks about not trusting a woman because she is a woman. People carrying suitcases walk across a desert highway and a man driving a truck on the road calls them "illegals." A woman in bed with a man says, "You've ruined me" and he says, "I hope so." A man makes a crude joke about Mexicans. A priest tells a woman giving confession that "Nothing is unforgivable." A woman tells a man that her parents were thrown out of a helicopter into the Atlantic ocean. A man says that a woman scares him. A man says that 3,000 people were killed in Juarez. A newspaper headline reads, "Headless body baffles police." A man talks about it being "dangerous outside" his bar and that "his whole family is dead."
 A barrel is opened and we see a dead body covered in liquid inside (several men react to the smell and we see the body's gray-tinged skin). A woman's dead body is dumped into a garbage dump (we see her bare legs). We see a bloody bullet wound in a man's leg as a woman cleans it and stitches it. A truck where a man was murdered is cleaned of blood and bullet holes are patched. A man is shown with a black eye and he talks about where it came from (another man hit him). A dead man is rolled over and we see blood and matter at the site of a head wound as two young men steal his shoes and other possessions. A woman with handcuffs and shackles is walked through a prison and into an interrogation room by guards. We see many people gathered in a vigil apparently for missing loved ones (they are speaking in Spanish and it is not translated).
 We see a cheetah chasing a jackrabbit through a desert and it swats the rabbit knocking it off its stride but does not attack (we do not see the cheetah catch the rabbit). We see cheetahs (as pets) in and around a home and an office on leashes and loose as well as in a restaurant. Two young men stealing from a dead body in the desert are frightened when two cheetahs leap out of the car the man was driving (they do not harm anyone).
 We see people packaging drugs and hiding them in barrels that are then placed in a truck container and liquid waste is poured on top (the men react to the smell, gagging and coughing as some of it spills). A septic waste transport truck dumps its contents on the ground (we see liquid and solid waste). A man urinates in the desert; we hear the stream and see a dark patch of sand where he was standing. A man cries hysterically and we see mucus dripping from his nose. A man has a bloody knuckle.
 A woman is shown with a large tattoo (looks like a cheetah print) across a shoulder and down her back.

PROFANITY 8 - About 30 F-words, 10 sexual references (2 in Spanish and not translated), 12 scatological terms, 4 anatomical terms, 7 mild obscenities, name-calling (nasty girls, chick, thin skin, possum, genius, mental defective, coward), 22 religious exclamations (e.g. God, Oh My God, Jesus, For Christ's Sake, Sweet Jesus). [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A man smokes a marijuana cigarette and takes a drink of beer before blowing smoke in his dog's face (the dog snorts and lies down), and we see people packaging drugs and hiding them in barrels that are then placed in a truck container and liquid waste is poured on top (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). A man mixes cocktails and he and a woman drink while watching a cheetah run in the desert, two men drink cocktails while having a business meeting, two men in a bar order beers and drink while talking, a man drinks a glass of alcohol, a man drinks wine alone while talking to his fiancée on the phone, a man drinks a cocktail while sitting on a chaise lounge on a patio, a man is shown passed out on a table in a bar (he says he fell asleep, but it is not clear), and a man and a woman drink champagne in a restaurant. A prison inmate asks her court appointed lawyer for cigarettes as he places a carton on the table and she lights one while they talk, and a man smokes a cigarette or a pipe (we see the smoke).

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Financial ruin, drug trafficking, murder, love, truth, emotions, greed, diamonds, cautionary tales, the brevity of our lives, moral dilemmas, tragedy, grief, Catholicism.

MESSAGE - Actions create consequences.

Special Keywords: S7 - V7 - P8 - MPAAR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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