Film: Mortdecai

Release Date: January 23, 2015

Based On: The Mortdecai Trilogy by Kyril Bongfiglioli, originally published from 1973-1979

Director: David Koepp




Overview: After a priceless Goya painting is stolen, British law enforcement seek the aid of an aristocratic art dealer, Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp).  The painting is believed to be linked to a vault enclosing Nazi gold. Unbeknownst to authorities, Mortdecai is looking at a depleting bank account and the entire Goya charade is a plot to secure Mortedcai’s financial status, plotted by the art connoisseur himself. With the aid of his muscle, Jock Strapp (Paul Bettany), brilliantly keen wife, Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow), and his own calculated thinking, bring him to America.

Working in its Favor: Although lacking substantive directorial credits, Koepp possesses sunstantial experience in movie writing. His extensive background, including Angels & Demons and War of the Worlds, could be an indication that he’ll deliver what fans of The Mortdecai Trilogy hope for: an adaptation that can stand on its own two feet.

Besides director, Koepp, the secondary cast of characters is a strong one, with Inspector Martland (Ewan McGregor) and Jock; they are the counterbalance to Mortdecai, physical portrayals of traits that Mortdecai lacks.

Potential Issues: In “Don’t Point That Thing at Me”, I visualized Charlie Mortdecai as a three-way lovechild of the Warner Bros. Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey, Jr., the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch, and The Grand Budapest Hotel’s M. Gustave. Depp does not quite align with the gene pool I concocted; Depp’s heavy-handed quirkiness is somewhat of an ill match…or is Koepp’s slick way to visually represent the satirical tone of the books; I’m conflicted about casting Depp as the lead role, obviously. Commentary from future audience members reflect similar reservations.

Wild Card: Koepp switched from writer to director. Interestingly, he paired up with a writer who has only one other movie under his belt – Eric Aronson. Koepp represents an individual on middle ground, in my opinion, with limited credibility in the field. Aronson, on the other hand. I see Aronson as a wildcard because of his inexperience, I am hopeful he has his own way of doing things, and that it is illustrated in Mortdecai. I cheer for the newbies. There is a reason why Aronson was selected to be part of the team; I will have faith in the potential he brings to the writing table.

Verdict: Will It Make A Good Film: If Koepp is able to maintain Mortdecai’s internal commentary or externally vocalize his pluck and boisterous personality, Mortdecai can be humorous and pleasing in a satirical manner. With crime/mystery plots, the non-sequential process is often a tease and engaging. Keeping these factors in mind, I predict Mortdecai will be slightly above average.