UK Release Date: 23rd January 2015
Runtime: 107 minutes
Director: David Koepp
Writer: Eric Aronson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum, Paul Whitehouse
Synopsis: A shady art dealer is tasked by the secret service with tracking down a lost painting which may have fallen into the hands of criminals.
It’s with an enormous clunk and plenty of noise that the first genuine stinker of 2015 has arrived. Mortdecai is another sad milestone in the downward spiral of Johnny Depp’s career. In fact, it’s almost certainly the low point of his recent work. Or indeed anyone’s recent work.
Mortdecai (Depp) is a semi-successful underground art dealer, but his wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) is concerned about their financial issues. Following a visit from Inspector Martland (Ewan McGregor), Mortdecai and his manservant Jock (Paul Bettany) are sent on the trail of a stolen Goya painting that is in the crosshairs of several criminals.
It’s difficult to describe quite how awful Mortdecai is, but even a cursory viewing of the film’s trailer gives a decent flavour of the infuriating dearth of humour on show. There isn’t a single laugh to be had in the entire script, which seems to have convinced itself it’s some sort of lightly crude, screwball farce. In actuality, it’s a funny-voiced ramble through a grubby joke book someone found at the back of a charity shop.
| "Your mother and father only knew each other for a day, and money changed hands."
Johnny Depp is cringe-inducing in the lead role. From the very first words of voiceover, the bizarre British accent he is attempting begins to apply a cheese grater to the ear. As the film continues, he is a consistently noisy presence in amongst the pratfalls and pitiful attempts at jokes, which vary from merely bland to shockingly blunt. It’s safe to say that Mortdecai makes Jack Sparrow look like one of cinema’s great characters. In fact, even Depp’s lacklustre Tonto in The Lone Ranger was a lot better than this.
Alongside Depp is Paul Bettany as macho manservant Jock Strapp (seriously). Bettany is good value when he’s on screen, but even he is incapable of getting beyond the clunkingly awful script. Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor also slum it, with their characters given little room to explore their sexual tension and desires for each other.
Mortdecai also has an incredibly unpleasant obsession with its central character’s moustache. The first five minutes of the film seems to focus almost entirely on Depp’s facial ferret and how each of the characters feel about it. In fact, audience allegiance is seemingly allocated based on whether the particular characters agree with the monstrosity on Mortdecai’s upper lip.
| "I had no idea I was so deep in Her Majesty’s hole."
Mortdecai is an utterly irredeemable film, in which no one’s motivations make sense and the story feels like an afterthought. The jokes are ill-conceived and uniformly fail to land, to the extent that even the cast seem to be having an awful time. There’s definitely a moustache though… did I mention the moustache?
Pop or Poop?
Wrong on just about every level, Mortdecai is the first stone cold turkey of the year.
Johnny Depp’s central performance couldn’t possibly be worse and cements the ongoing decline of his career, whilst Paltrow and McGregor look as if they would rather be literally anywhere else.
Believe me, guys, so would I.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.