More often that not these days, when you see the trailer for a new Johnny Depp movie, you might find yourself audibly sighing. That's definitely the case for February 2015 spy comedy Mortdecai, directed by David Koepp and based on a book by Kyril Bonfiglioli.
So…what's going on here, exactly? Depp is an impeccably-dressed spy with a wax mustache who can't stop hitting on women? Austin Powers already riffed on wacky 60s secret agent movies, but this is dialing up our heroes' class status, if not the classiness of the humor itself.
The cast includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum, Paul Bettany and Ewan McGregor. People will fall over, guns will be misfired, a perfunctory mystery will be solved, and many a sexist joke will be made to stunned faces. Depp has worked with Koepp before, on Secret Window, and perhaps that's what drew him to this project, but otherwise it looks like another lazy, one-dimensional comic creation for him to play. It's now been quite a while since Depp turned in an interesting performance, and even longer since one really resonated with audiences. It is hard to see how Mortdecai will change that trend.
It's time to ask the question: what should Depp do to set his career back on course? His last interesting year was 2011 (when Rango and The Rum Diary came out) and his last real non-Pirates blockbuster hit was Alice in Wonderland, which was pretty horrid and similarly one-dimensional. Maybe he should take up roles in smaller movies or with more challenging directors, because his blockbuster compass seems especially off as of late.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.