Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor
After a priceless painting is stolen, an MI5 agent (McGregor) is forced to enlist the help of his former rival, British aristocrat and shady art dealer Charles Mortdecai (Depp), who himself happens to be broke and needs the money. However as the hapless Mortdecai and his faithful manservant Jock (Paul Bettany) dig deeper, what ensues is an increasingly dangerous globetrotting and farcical mission.
Ever since Jack Sparrow (an admittedly inspired creation for one film), Johnny Depp seems to think he can now forge a career playing slightly strange characters. Though his stoicism may be mildly admirable, it is extremely deluded as with every ‘oddball’ performance he seems to be just becoming a walking, talking cliché of himself with every performance feeling like a lacklustre rip-off of the last. Depp of course did try to be serious in last year’s horrendous Transcendence with terrible results and a charisma-less performance that was essentially via skype, so maybe he should just give up completely!
Well, Depp’s latest creation is a horrendously lazy and racist stereotype on of an English aristocrat, and in this film his performance truly lacks the charisma and charm to get away with it. Though of course the material he is given does not help, as Mortdecai desperately wants to be a light-hearted crime caper in the vein of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Well this is of course a notoriously hard genre to get right (as does anything involving comedy), and while Wes Anderson’s film nailed the formula with uproarious success, David Koepp’s film fails to quite miserably.
For a film of this nature and intended genre to work it must surely first and foremost be funny, as Mortdecai certainly has a plot that feels very slapdash and is often completely incoherent. However, with endearing characters, a genuinely witty script and effective comedy the most illogical narrative can be forgiven quite easily. After all, that can be the nature and indeed very definition of a ‘caper’.
Well Mortdecai fails in the comedy and charming level (and indeed fails on all levels) with quite hideous and miserable results as the lazy script simply relies on the cast overacting to try and carry it and make up for this extreme laziness. Perhaps with the exception of the ever reliable Paul Bettany, the cast just completely embarrass themselves (and often look quite embarrassed) and show up this film for the cynical and deeply offensive insult to the honest cinema going public that it truly is.
From start to finish the only laughs generated by this vile film are very much AT how bad Mortdecai truly is and most certainly never with. It is obvious from the very start just how incredibly lazy and deeply cynical Mortdecai is, and though David Koepp’s direction is admirably energetic and Florian Hoffmeister’s cinematography wonderfully bright and colourful, they cannot make up for the extreme lack of imagination and effort that goes into the actual script and the lacklustre performances. Mortdecai truly is a depressing and frustrating example of the nasty, lazy and insulting films that seem to be very prevalent these days at our local multiplex. Films like this should be avoided at all costs so those that make these films start showing respect for the intelligence of the average cinema goer in which the usual price of a ticket is actually a lot of money.
A dull detritus of a film that is a pure example of how to be lazy and cynical and get a genre piece very wrong; with yet another annoying ‘oddball’ performance form Johnny Depp setting the very low standard, Mortdecai is as dull as it is insulting to all sentient beings.