Once again, Johnny Depp shows his talent for slipping completely into a character. What a shame that this character is almost completely unnoteworthy.
Mortdecai (the movie) wants to be a knowing send up of sixties caper movies, espionage thrillers and, possibly, the superb BBC series Lovejoy. Instead, it’s Johnny Depp plays the worst of Mr. Bean – in a Rolls.
Charlie Mortdecai (Depp) is a minor English lord who deals stolen art but has fallen on hard times. When he is approached to help MI5 – in the person of the straightforward Alastair Martland (Ewan McGregor) – to help with the case of a missing Goya. Said Goya is said to have the key to unlocking hundreds of millions in Nazi gold.
Aided by his unfathomably loyal manservant, Jock Strap (Paul Bettany) – and yes, that’s the level of wit we’re dealing with here – Charlie finds himself in jams in London, Moscow and Los Angeles en route to stumbling into a clever (for this movie) plot.
Much is made of Charlie’s baby walrus moustache – and his reflexive gag reflex – which leads to a spot of bother in his marriage to his wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) and sets up our knowledge that she is far smarter than he.
Much is also made of Charlie’s habit of inadvertently doing harm to Jock (hence the unfathomable loyalty) – very little of which is actually funny.
Olivia Munn completely fails to excite as America collector Martin Krampf’s (Jeff Goldblum) nymphomaniac daughter, Georgina – further underscoring the lack of wit in this particular effort at cinematic pastiche.
Director David Koepp tries his damnedest to keep Eric Aronson’s charmless script afloat, but no amount of frenetic pacing will suffice – not even with a talented cast and (the film’s strongest point) excellent cinematography.
By the time the closing credits rolled I had long since finished my drink and munchies and was drumming my fingers on the arm of my seat. I felt like Garfield hanging on the screen door: bored, bored, bored, bored, bored.
Even the song over the closing credits (a paean to the loveliness of Johanna) was uninspired.
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