Director: David Koepp
Cast: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn
After a massive dip in his career Johnny Depp had a renaissance when the first 'Pirates of the Caribbean' released in 2003. It seemed like we finally had an action adventure hero plus a great performer who also exuded comedic chops. Since then he's made three sequels, and plenty more movies where he's played a garish and quirky character wearing outlandish clothes and doing even stranger things. The film titles change, but his necessity to be cartoonish doesn't. Such is also the case with his latest film 'Mortdecai'.
In the name of comedy, you have Johnny Depp making weird faces while twirling his handlebar mustache
Released in the compost pit of January when underwhelming movies come to die, 'Mortdecai' is neither funny nor entertaining nor interesting enough to hold your attention. The spy spoof genre is seemingly the easiest to do in Hollywood – everyone from Mr Bean to Pierce Brosnan himself have done movies that made fun of detective-spy films. This time around Johnny Depp gets to do his own version of 'The Pink Panther', and it just falls apart even before you can give it a chance.
Depp is not a spy per se, but an art dealer named Mortdecai who somehow gets involved in an MI5 mission to recover a stolen painting from a terrorist. Along the way he collides into a sidekick, the cockney accented Paul Bettany, a pallid agent (Ewan McGregor), bickers with his insufferable wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) and gets involved in a barrage of car chases and other accidental 'comedic' action sequences around the globe. The thing is, none of it is funny. In the name of comedy you get Depp making weird faces while twirling his mustache, while everyone around him is dead serious. It just doesn't work, because neither the central plot is interesting enough to make you depend on the jokes, nor are the jokes effective enough to make you expect a decent plot.
Strangely the director David Koepp has made good films in the past – like 'Premium Rush' and 'Ghost Town', the latter especially worked as a comedy because of the charming cast and the genuinely great lines, and also the restrained nature of it. If only he'd spent more time writing good jokes instead of focusing on Depp's star power to propel the film forward. Much like their previous collaboration 'Secret Window', this one is a turkey that'll only be remembered for its legendarily small haul at the box office.