Johnny Depp's last few starring roles have been less than fruitful. With mediocre films like Transcendence, The Lone Ranger, and Dark Shadows, no wonder he hasn't had much box-office success lately. Even though Disney and Tim Burton have been his bread & butter for over a decade, maybe he should walk away from them so that he can salvage his career from those predictable roles and lackluster films. Besides, Burton still has his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) to star in every one of his movies whether she's miscast or not.
Depp's latest film, Mortdecai, however, is not a step in the right direction. Aside from choosing this role, I find no fault with Depp in this movie. You can tell that he put in the effort to sound like a British snob in a quirky situation. I have a problem with the film's failed attempts at becoming the new Pink Panther.
The film tries too hard for a laugh in moments where it might not even need one. I blame the film's writing more than anything. Director David Koepp, known for writing screenplays for films like, Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible, Panic Room, and the 2002 Spiderman, should have adapted this film from the Mortdecai novels himself. The film itself looks good.
From the lavish locations to its elaborate set designs, nothing seems held back from its world of highbrow extravagance. From items on a shelf to even the display of a buffet table, the attention to detail is admirable. But the same level of attention was not given in other areas.
Though all players involved did a stand-up job, the weak writing kept them and this film from being worthwhile. Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man), Paul Bettany (The Da Vinci Code), and Ewan McGregor (Star Wars eps. I, II, III), are the seasoned actors we've come to love over the years.
What seems to work the best though, is when Depp is teamed up with Bettany, and Paltrow is teamed up with McGregor. In those moments, the actors give fun performances that temporarily distract you from the bad and the boring. The unevenness of funny to un-funny moments during the same scenes resembles being on a kid's rollercoaster- an occasional thrill but an overall letdown. Even Jeff Goldblum's (Independence Day) brief appearance couldn't liven things up. At least there were a few funny moments that keep this film from total pointlessness.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Mortdecai
The Good- Russians & balls, Bettany's libido, Mortdecai and guns don't mix, "I have a F***in man servant", and the gag reflex.
The Bad- The pointless exploitation of CG maps to change from one location to another, so that this movie can have its own personal stamp. If they (the filmmakers) had left that out, maybe this film wouldn't have lost so much money.
The Ugly- It's pretty sad when the film goes for a big laugh and the entire crowd remains silent.
Final Thoughts on Mortdecai
Another pretty film that's poorly written and less than memorable. Hopefully, the pre-approved sequel will decide to put substance over appearance next time. Wait to see this on cable where your money also gets wasted. I'm still a Johnny Depp fan but, I'm starting to question whether he should stick to cameos (21 Jump Street, Tusk), or just do another Jack Sparrow flick. Maybe his sleepy eyes can't see who's written these scripts when he's reading them?
Rating- 4.5 out of 10
R | 1h 47min | Action, Comedy, Crime | 23 January 2015 (USA)
Juggling angry Russians, the British Mi5, and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai races to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain a code that leads to lost gold.
Director: David Koepp
Writers: Eric Aronson (screenplay), Kyril Bonfiglioli (novel)
Stars: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor