‘The Counsellor’, as in the titular character in the movie, is a lawyer, supposedly one who gives legal counsel. Yet, probably because he knows the law well, he assumes he can skip the legal loopholes, and resorts to crime, trying to have a go in the drug trade out of greed – despite already being well-to-do.
When the stakes are high, even when you are high up in the hierarchy of crime, it can turn out to be easier to botch a job, as there are more uncontrollable factors involved below. The safety of distance and moral inculpability is an illusion. Thus, he becomes ‘criminalised’ by other drug lords in his circuit due to a mistake. (There is honour among thieves only when there is money to honour?)
The counsellor then desperately seeks the criminal counsel of those he used to give legal counsel to. The irony of being constantly addressed ‘counsellor’ deepens more with increase of his desperation in begging tips to escape assassination. By the end, he loses his over-confident persona totally, and no longer deserves his title at all… Thus is ‘The Counsellor’ a cautionary tale… of how easy it is to slip… and fall… hard. And yes… the movie has a haiku-ish tagline…
Want it all.
Risk it all.
Lose it all.