Johnny Depp is reunited with director David Koepp in this crude, charmless caper
Ay, caramba! Johnny Depp has given us quite a catalogue of eccentric and goofy characterisations in his time. But none of them has been as thoroughly unamusing and charmless as his Charlie Mortdecai, eponymous anti-hero of a badly misjudged action comedy.
Fans of novelist Kyril Bonfiglioli’s cult satirical trilogy of madcap Mortdecai misadventures expressed misgivings about Depp playing the rogue. How right they were. His conception of the quintessentially British ne’er-do-well is to do a grotesquely OTT impersonation of cinema’s fave devious bounder of yesteryear, Terry-Thomas (complete with blacked-out gap between his two front teeth), with a really silly moustache and an even sillier accent.
Accompanied by his faithful Cockney manservant and muscle, Jock (Paul Bettany), an on-his-uppers Mortdecai becomes embroiled in a kooky con involving art forgery, a lost Goya, hidden Nazi loot, Russian thugs, an American billionaire (Jeff Goldblum) and international terrorism. One step ahead of him most of the time is his elegant aristo wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow). One step behind is the man from MI5 (Ewan McGregor), who is in love with Mortdecai's wife but needs the cad’s help to navigate the murky world of art trafficking.
It appears the intent here was to spoof glamorous caper flicks of the 60s — with their globe-trotting, car chases, shoot ‘em-ups, aerial shots of London landmarks, sexy clothes and much swilling of alcohol — but even Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn would have been sorely tested to make projectile vomiting and boob jokes engaging; it's so puerile, so not funny, it’s unbearable. Depp is very much to blame, having put the project together with his Secret Window director David Koepp. No doubt they had a hoot filming it, but watching it is painful.
General release from Fri 23 Jan.