No plain sailing for Johnny Depp in choppy waters

No plain sailing for Johnny Depp in choppy waters
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (12A)

Johnny Depp has just come through a messy divorce. In addition he’s suing his management team for fraud so he could probably do with the ridiculous amounts of money they tend to offer him for twaddle like this. He’s also embroiled in a so-called ‘scandal’ about allegedly having had his dialogue fed to him through an earpiece for many of his recent movies.

I’m wondering why this would be a scandal. Marlon Brando did it for most of his later career. Brando’s justification was that he could better register surprise at his lines if he didn’t know what they were before the cameras started rolling.

“We don’t know what we’re going to say in real life,” he argued, “so why should we in films?”

Depp is no Brando, however, despite the pair of them having been friends – and acting together twice. With him the practice could simply be due to laziness.

Salazar’s Revenge once again has him as Jerry Bruckheimer’s dreadlocked Black Pearl pirate Jack Sparrow. This time his main adversary is Javier Bardem (Salazar).  He’s just escaped from the Devil’s Triangle ‘black hole’ prison with a crew of ghost pirates. He’s hellbent on exacting revenge on Sparrow for his incarceration.

What a pity to see Bardem reduced to the level of a cartoon villain after being so much more subtly fearful in films like No Country for Old Men. (Cold-blooded villains are always more scary; adventure calls for hot blood.)Hope

Sparrow’s only hope of survival lies in something called the Trident of Poseidon, an artefact that gives its possessor control of the seas. This is something he dearly needs as he embarks upon a tussle with Salazar on his puny vessel the Dying Gull.

Helping him in his cause are pretty astronomer Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) and a stubborn pirate called Henry (Brenton Thwaites). Also along for the ride are former POTC stalwarts:  Geoffrey Rush and Orlando Bloom. The film is co-directed by Joachin Ronning and Espen Sandberg, a Norwegian duo. They spare no expense in ramping up the melodrama.

There was a time I thought Depp represented the bright new face of acting on the strength of his eccentric repertoire of performances.

In recent years his whimsical charm has largely been waylaid into a raft of big budget blockbusters like this. He’s been content to operate on auto-pilot for the fast buck.

Leaping about the place in swashbuckling nautical yarns might enthral some younger audience members. I prefer the more endearing Peter Pan characters he essayed in films like Edward Scissorhands and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 


He’s really just going through the motions here. It’s chewing gum for the eyes.

Nobody can deny its powerhouse credentials in the scorching action scenes but generally it plays out like the leftovers of all the other Caribbean films rolled into yet another cynical charade that preaches to the converted.

Fair **