Free Press Journal

Movie Review: Mortdecai – Johnny Depp is the saviour here


Cast: Ewan McGregor, Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Jeff Goldblum, Olivia Munn

Director: David Koepp

When British gentry slipped into terminal decline, some went off to warmer climes and built the British Empire, some died during WW1 and some made fortunes in industry (like the nouveau riche they despised).

In this adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli’s The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery, gay (as in happy. not homo), bawdy and reckless Baron Charlie (Johnny Depp) Mortdecai is strapped for cash. You might like to know Mortdecai is the alter ego of crime novelist who was himself an art dealer and as eccentric as they come. Also note how the protagonist’s name and that of his Man Friday Jock (Paul Bettany) Strap is as telling as William Makepeace Thackeray’s impoverished-genteel characters Lord Bareacres and Viscount Castlemouldy.

When we meet him and his alabaster wife Johanna (Gywneth Paltrow) in their palatial residence, it’s apparent he has taken to part-time shady art dealing to support their hedonistic lifestyle (aged cheese, bourbon and fine clothing) not to speak of the maintenance of his moustache so when Alistair (Ewan McGregor) Maitland, a college buddy and MI5 officer, asks him to help find a stolen Goya painting, he accepts with alacrity.

The stolen painting is believed to contain the code to a bank account filled with Nazi gold by no less than Hitler’s deputy Hermann Goering. Naturally, the priceless artwork is coveted by wealthy Americans (Jeff Goldblum) an international terrorist and an assortment of thugs and crooks who want revenge for being cheated. Unlike these, Maitland does not cherish bitter malice against Mortdecai for stealing his girl Johanna.

The action and comedy just about passes muster in this art heist caper but the stellar attraction needless to say is Depp who relishes the role which is completely in keeping with his penchant for quirky characters from Captain Jack Sparrow (the Pirates of the Caribbean) to Hunter S. Thompson (The Rum Diary).