I can say with confidence that "Mortdecai" is the worst movie for anyone who was involved in the making of it. This is Johnny Depp's worst movie, this is Gwyneth Paltrow's worst movie, and Ewan McGregor's and Olivia Munn's and Paul Bettany's. Why anybody in this mostly talented ensemble would ever want to sign up for something so god-awful is something I have been trying to wrap my head around for the last twenty-four hours. Where all of these wonderful actors bored and wanted to something "fun" to do? Did they do it to try and stay relevant? Did they do it to spice things in their career up a bit? I don't know and I honestly don't understand.
I could tell throughout the entire film that director David Koepp tried really hard to make a great movie, but he failed every which way. He certainly tried to make this good though. The set and visual design is gorgeous. The costumes and music and certain styles all set the mood right. It is clear that Koepp was trying to channel 1970's James Bond, Pink Panther, a hint of Monty Python and any other memorable crime capers of that era. I know Koepp tried to work from a script he thought would be fun and that he thought would work given the cast he had to work with. Sadly, he could not put it all together, this cast couldn't put it all together nicely. Sadly, the film just doesn't work.
Charlie Mortdecai (Depp) is a British aristocrat who is also a shady art dealer on the side. He is pulled in by an old friend Maitland (McGregor) who works for MI5 to help him track down who stole a Goya painting. This painting is rumored to have a code to an old Nazi bank which possesses lots of gold, which is what makes it so valuable. The catch also is Mortdecai is not the only one who wants it and it becomes a race against time to retrieve it. The premise alone sounds like it could have been a fun one, and perhaps in the hands of another director, it could have worked. The cast certainly looks good on paper, and I think for the most part, they give it there best. There are just some things that I could not get behind.
Around the time to wrote my "Transcendence" review last year, I wrote about how Johnny Depp seems to have one "type" that he is good at, if he is not playing this "type" in a movie, he looks bored. Well, it also seems Depp can't carry a bad idea or a terrible script either. Mortdecai is a wacky character, but Depp never brings any of his usual charm and grace to his otherwise weird characters. It almost seems like Depp is in a bad movie and he knows it, some he just coasts by, seeing if anybody in the audience will notice. I certainly noticed, and I highly doubt I was the only one. In fact, it seems the rest of the cast had the same creeping suspicion about this script as well, I just feel they did a good job hiding it compared to Depp. It seems Depp is a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve.
So what makes "Mortdecai" so bad? Well, I don't particularly like that we are supposed to root for a despicable scoundrel just because Depp is playing it. I don't mind following an amoral figure through a movie if there is some kind of storytelling or emotional pay-off at the end, but Koepp seemed more engaged in making this cute. I also feel the movie has a strange video game vibe to it, as the characters just jump from one scenario to another without ever becoming actual characters, they are essentially types, balls of cliché rolled up into an actor. I can't stand that the movie tries to be funny without ever being funny, nor does is it cute when its trying very hard to be as such. All in all, it seems that Koepp just tried to get by with his cast, and that is never a good thing, no matter how gifted that cast is.
This won't destroy the careers of anyone involved. But I just really wonder if any of these actors read the script and thought this would be a winner or if they thought their spin on it would proceed to make it such. I don't know, but I just want each actor out there to know that when projects like this come up in your career, it is okay to say no. You will work again, I promise.
FINAL GRADE: F