Prior to release, the advertising for Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2007 film No Country for Old Men focused on a particular set piece: Anton Chigurh’s cattle gun. The slow and methodical manner by which Chigurh raises the bolt up to his victim’s forehead (and the subsequent sound of it firing off-screen) was enough to simultaneously entice and horrify the viewer.
Six years later the first teaser trailer for Ridley Scott’s The Counselor–scripted by novelist Cormac McCarthy, whose book served as the basis for No Country–adopts a similar tactic. Rather than a cattle gun, however, this teaser emphasizes a thin, taut, and well-conceived trap for a speeding motorcyclist on a desolate Texas highway: a steel wire strung between two poles. In the first fifteen seconds, the trap’s creation and execution are briefly detailed via a series of quick cuts and fades. The sequence ends with a final shot of the blurry bike approaching the wire in the background. Once out of frame, the foregrounded wire abruptly tightens before the scene cuts to the next.
The Counselor utilizes the same four major facets that attracted audiences and critics to No Country. The first is the filmmakers. Whereas the Coens tackled No Country, Scott–famous for the likes of Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator–delves into this film. Secondly, both movies find source material in the warped imagination of Cormac McCarthy. Third is cast: No Country and The Counselor boast stellar ensembles, and the former even garnered Javier Bardem an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Chigurh. And last but not least, the landscape itself. The Coens often spoke of No Country‘s setting in West Texas as a character in its own right. I happen to agree, and I think that the same could be said for Scott’s depictions of the area in and around El Paso.
Despite these comparisons, I hope to enjoy the new film for its own merits later this year. But you won’t find me riding a crotch-rocket down a lonely highway in Texas anytime soon.
The Counselor, which is still in post-production, opens nationwide October 25th.