Thursday, January 22, 2015

eOne Film Review- Mortdecai

Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) is an Art expert and dealer of questionable peerage who dabbles in the shadier side of the business. At the films opening he's in Hong Kong working on a deal for a vase with long term rival Fang Fat (Junix Inocian). As the pair banter it's revealed that Mortdecai is in serious financial difficulty with the British Government. The two do not come to a deal leading to a physical confrontation Mortdecai is backed by his manservant/thug Jock (Peter Bettany).

A quick transition back to London where Mortdecai's wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) survey's the next pieces from the estate that must go out to auction. She is put off by the new mustache a Mortdecai male tradition declaring an either or ultimatum.  The pair are soon visited by MI5 Inspector Martland (Ewan McGregor) who is investigation a theft of a Goya painting plus the death of a restorer that may have terrorist implications.

Director David Koepp's film based on a Kyril Bonfiglioli novel whirls around the capitals of Europe in pursuit of the missing mural. The film tries to recreate the heist capers from the sixties but misses the mark. Eric Aronson script does not hit the right comedic notes. The production has a few instances that will bring a smile or a chuckle but most of the attempts at hilarity stall or fizzle.

The film has a few running gags mainly Mortdecai's mustache that is an item of conversation each time a new character enters the scene and causes Johanna to gag whenever she comes in close proximity. Another the irresistible prowess of manservant Jock bedding women at every turn. 's  that becomes tiresome after the third depiction.

The highlight of the film is in the handling of the transitions. As the characters jet around Europe the cities are shown satellite style with  multiple story high letters on screen. Planes carrying our group fly though O's around the A's and into an S shattering it to pieces. The film often uses fast pace frames linking the last location of one city to the first point of call in the next.

Johnny Depp seems to be working on an inside joke that only he knows with his character Mortdecai. He appears to be channeling Peter Sellers, David Niven  or possibly even Mike Myer's Austin Powers but does not quite get there. Gwyneth Paltrow does well with little material as Johanna the smartest person in the film and the only one with any investigative skills. Which is what one would expect for McGregor's MI5 investigator Markland  who spends more time mesmerized by Johanna who passed him over for Mortdecai back when the three of them were in college.

David Koepp's Mortdecai is an attempt at an international escapade that falls short. The vast majority of the jokes are not funny and the film suffers from a thin plot. Depp's character has some  good moment but they are few and  far between. It is not a film that I can recommend even to die hard Johnny Depp fans.

* 1/2  Out of 4.

Mortdecai| David Koepp | U.S.A. | 2015 | 106 Minutes.

Tags: Art , Goya, Smuggling, Mustache, Restorer, Forgery, Auction, Manservant, Lord, MI5.  

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