Bumbling capers filled with affairs of the heart, priceless works of art and one final scheme worth millions are a trope in cinema that we have grown to love. There’s almost always a clueless hero involved and a plot twist or two, but it’s whether these two factors can coexist that really determines the entertainment value of a film. Unfortunately, Mortdecai has fallen victim to placing a heavy reliance on its star value and not much else.
Famed art dealer Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) has fallen on hard times recently, mostly due to the fact that he owes the bank over 8million pounds. Wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) is growing increasingly frustrated with their lack of funds, putting strain on the relationship. His right hand man Jock (Paul Bettany) serves his every need no questions asked, no matter the threat to Jock himself. When MI5 agent and old school chum Alistair Martland (Ewan McGregor) needs Mortdecai’s help in solving a murder and finding a rare and valuable piece of art, Mortdecai finds himself in a tug of war involving an international terrorist Emil (Jonny Pasvolsky), a fellow art collector (Jeff Goldblum) and his nymphomaniac daughter Georgina (Olivia Munn) and some very angry Russians. Cue some car chases and plot twists that takes us across the globe and back again, leaving Mortdecai and Co. to outwit and out chase their opponents to the very end and solve the case.
There is no doubt that Johnny Depp loves being a character actor. Anyone just has to take a look at his illustrious career, especially of late, to notice that he appreciates a good accent and some too much makeup. But here the accent is annoyingly distracting and the make up a touch overboard, making his lead the wrong side of endearing. Every time he had an accident, or the good fortune to not be killed, lacked any real laughs save for his poor offsider Bettany, whose comedic timing saves the film from being a complete mess. Audiences are also graced with something they haven’t heard in a long time: Gwyneth Paltrow’s British accent. Her character Johanna is clearly the brains behind the operation, and although she makes the best of a bad situation, it looked as though Paltrow was just going through the motions. She wasn’t terrible and she wasn’t outstanding, just there to create fiction and have some eye candy (along with Munn) for the people that appreciate that sort of thing.
The major flaw however has to be the plot. The idea in itself is fine, just the overall execution failed to achieve anything it clearly set out to do. Don’t get me wrong, Mortdecai drew a chuckle or two from me, but the expectation level for a comedy is far greater than a couple of laughs. Added to this the fact that you could see the ending coming a mile away, meant that there was no real surprise that kept me interested nor any humour that kept me entertained. The end result was a film that had so much potential and star power, yet failed to capitalise on any of it.
Some of you may find Mortdecai to be the most hilarious movie of 2015, others may absolutely hate it. If not for the saving grace of the underestimated Paul Bettany, this film would have been a complete and utter disaster. Alas, it wasn’t the best movie I’ve seen, but it certainly isn’t the worst, making it a film that doesn’t have any real impact whatsoever, save for a laugh or two.