Director: David Koepp
Cast: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Jeff Goldblum, Olivia Munn
Run Time: 107 minutes
Synopsis: An eccentric art dealer Charles Mortdecai (Depp), with the unknowing help of his wife Joanna (Paltrow) must help the British Government find a rare stolen painting, while being supervised by the leader of the case, Alistair Martland (McGregor).
Name the last good Johnny Depp you saw, I bet you it takes a while. In the past couple of years, Johnny Depp’s creditability has proven to not be as resourceful as it used to be. Last year’s TRANSCENDENCE was a huge disappointment, THE LONE RANGER was so bad, Disney spilt up with Jerry Bruckheimer and the less said about THE RUM DIARY, the better. So Depp is now trying to restore his creditability in new film MORTDECAI. This looks like a very promising film, a great cast, great director and funny British humour. But is MORTDECAI any good in full or is it just any payday for Johnny Depp? Sadly it’s the latter.
The trailers for the film showed a great sense of British humour and comedy, but that is the film’s biggest problem. None of the comedy works, at all. You find yourself at times smirking at certain moments but these were already shown in the trailer. The comedy is incredibly forced and you don’t at times know whether to laugh because you’re suppose to, or laugh out of embarrassment for the film. Part of the forced comedy is the “British humour” which fails beyond comparison. The film is written and directed by Americans, who all still believe we walk around and talk like something out of Downton Abbey. Every “Brit” in the film is “oh so terribly British” with posh accents galore. It becomes incredibly frustrating, as everyone is a walking stereotype and not just the Brits. Americans, Asians and Russians are all portrayed in stereotypical fashions, so it’s annoying for everyone to watch it.
When you look at the cast assembled for MORTDECAI and what the film ended being, it’s incredibly depressing. While Depp might have shined in the trailers as this eccentric moron, the whole act gets old very fast. You don’t pull for Mortdecai at any point in the film because he’s out of touch with everything, which I know is supposed to be part of the character, but he comes across more as an idiotic arsehole than someone who has trouble understanding the modern world. I’ve never really been a Gwyneth Paltrow fan and she doesn’t do much to change my opinion here. Her character is just as irritating as she cranks up her Britishness to a whole other level and you wonder why anyone fancies her character in the first place. On the other hand, I am a fan of Ewan McGregor, but he’s just as bad as the others. And for those who are going to see MORTDECAI for Olivia Munn and Jeff Goldblum, don’t bother. Munn is criminally underused as always and I can count the number of scenes Goldblum is in on one hand.
But there is a plus; Paul Bettany is the best thing in the entire film. Playing Mortdecai’s “man servant” Jock, Bettany puts on his best Danny Dyer impression as the east Londoner paid to keep Mortdecai safe. What Bettany does in this role is turn a very stereotypical character into something unique. His characteristics help him to separate himself from other comedic bodyguards before him and he is the only character you warm to in the entire film.
While MORTDECAI looked promising, it ultimately fails across the board. The writing is bad, the acting’s terrible, the stereotyping is painful to watch and the comedy is forced and outdated. It might have worked in the 90’s but comedy has changed, you can’t get away with small personality quirks and projectile vomit these days, you need something cleverer. There is probably a reason the film is being so heavily promoted by the cast, because when the film is this bad; it isn’t going to sell through word of mouth. The fact that Lionsgate want to make a trilogy out of this is worrying, because there is nowhere this film can go without making another stereotypical mess of a film. I know we are only three and a half weeks into the New Year but I will remember MORTDECAI come December as being one of the worst films of 2015.
[usr=1] MORTDECAI is released in cinemas across the UK from Friday 23rd January.