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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Hang on, sir.


Plot Overview

The opening scene is set in a London nightclub where a tray of flaming drinks passes by and we see negotiating for a pricey vase on the table, art dealer “I am many things” Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) and a gangster named Fang (Junix Inocian.) They settle on a million £, a cheque is placed on the table, but as Mortdecai reaches for it, the gangster makes to cut off one of his digits as reparation for having been duped in their last trans­action. Mortdecai protests that although he'd done some wheeling and dealing, it was “never an out­right monte bank.” His man­servant Jock Strapp [!] (Paul Bettany) inter­venes before any slicing takes place, and the bar brawl that ensues makes quick work of the delicate vase while the fire takes care of the cheque.

Charlie is “staring down the barrel of insolvency” on account of unpaid taxes (“I had no idea I was so deep in Her Majesty's hole!”) necessitating “selling my prize possessions.” Opportunity knocks when MI–5 Inspector Alistair Martland (Ewan McGregor) calls upon his old college friend Mortdecai to provide an in to the art world (“Why did it have to be art?”) to help him recover a stolen Goya that conceals some Nazi financial codes … which criminal Emil Strago (Jonny Pasvolsky) is also after. “I've given you a lot of rope over the years,” Mart­land tells Mortdecai, “but now you're dangling off the end of it.” He consents to a 10% finder's fee. Others in the art world pick up the scent and are soon after the same picture. What follows is a verit­able inter­national game of three-card monte where the "cards" being shuffled are paintings, and who knows which "shell" hides the pea?

The plot is further complicated because Martland is still carrying a torch for Mortdecai's gorgeous wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow.) She fell for the long­hair bad boy in college who became a seedy art dealer, rather than for the strait­laced poet who went into law enforce­ment. Mortdecai has merely combed back his long hair, but now feeling the pull of family convention he is sporting a mustache that Johanna can't stand. Mart­land sees their marital row as his own opportunity, so he sends Mortdecai off on a fool's errand.


The Wisdom books of the Apocrypha are accepted by the Protestants for edification purposes though they are not included in the canon. Among them is Eccles­ias­ticus, also known as The Wisdom of the Son of Sirach. Portions seem applicable to “Mortdecai” as follows: (Sirach 2:4-5) What­soever is brought upon thee take cheer­fully, and be patient when thou art changed to a low estate. For gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity. That seems to be his tale through­out and he does keep the British stiff upper lip, as he tells his moustache-shy wife, “The domain of a man's upper lip is his sovereign ground.

(Sirach 4:29) Be not hasty in thy tongue, and in thy deeds slack and remiss. He heaps praise on his man­servant Jock and at one point has a chance to show his appreciation, albeit at some danger to himself.

(Sirach 4:30) Be not as a lion in thy house, nor frantick among thy servants. He's far from over­bearing towards Johanna, to the point of being deferential (“With your permission, dear”), and he treats his man­servant Jock with equanimity to the point of being aloof (“Man down.”)

(Sirach 4:31) Let not thine hand be stretched out to receive, and shut when thou shouldest repay. He does like to see a profit on his business, but he still needs to pay those back taxes.

(Ecclesiasticus 8:16) Strive not with an angry man, and go not with him into a solitary place: for blood is as nothing in his sight; and where there is no help, he will over­throw thee. He has some bad guys come after him from whom he would do well to escape and not go with them.

(Sirach 9:1) Be not jealous over the wife of thy bosom, and teach her not an evil lesson against thyself. He had no cause to doubt his faith­ful wife, but it might have been self-defeating to pretend he was in a brothel when phoning her from a California hotel with thin walls and energetic guests.

(Sir. 9:2-3) Give not thy soul unto a woman to set her foot upon thy sub­stance. Meet not with an harlot, lest thou fall into her snares. It would probably be a mistake for him to meet with known nympho­maniac Georgina (Olivia Munn) who has her own designs on the treasure.

(Sir. 9:5) Gaze not on a maid, that thou fall not by those things that are precious in her. Georgina was some­thing to behold on the big screen, but it's a danger for Mortdecai to.

(Sir. 9:6) Give not thy soul unto harlots, that thou lose not thine inheritance. One insult Mortdecai gives a hoodlum after the goods is, “Your mother and father only knew each other for a day, and money changed hands.

(Sir. 9:8) Turn away thine eye from a beautiful woman, and look not upon another's beauty; for many have been deceived by the beauty of a woman; for here­with love is kindled as a fire. Yeah, Georgina was a sight, alright.

(Sir. 9:9) Sit not at all with another man's wife, nor sit down with her in thine arms, and spend not thy money with her at the wine; lest thine heart incline unto her, and so through thy desire thou fall into destruction. Mortdecai was caught in a compromising embrace with Georgina, and Martland enter­tained Johanna over wine (“Is this a tryst?”).

(Sir. 9:10) Forsake not an old friend; for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old, thou shalt drink it with pleasure. The friend­ship between the two old college buddies was worth maintaining though they were on opposite sides of the law at times.

(Sir. 9:13) Keep thee far from the man that hath power to kill; so shalt thou not doubt the fear of death: and if thou come unto him, make no fault, lest he take away thy life presently: remember that thou goest in the midst of snares, and that thou walkest upon the battle­ments of the city. Mortdecai was dealing with some seedy dangerous characters who at times needed to be appeased, and he was not altogether safe from them back­stage at the auction at Sedgwick's.

Production Values

“Mortdecai” (2015) was directed by David Koepp. Its screenplay was written by Eric Aronson based on Kyril Bon­fig­lioli's novel, Don't Point That Thing at Me, the first in a series of four comic thrillers he wrote in the 1970s. It stars Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ewan McGregor. All the actors were fantastic. Jock played by Paul Bettany was especially noteworthy.

MPAA rated it R for some language and sexual material. It was filmed in part at Old Royal Naval College, Green­wich, London, England. Mortdecai's opening comments about being an art dealer, accomplished fencer, and fair shot with most weapons are taken directly from Kyril Bon­fig­lioli's book jacket author biography. The movie Mortdecai, ho­wever, seems some­what physically inept. The film's aesthetics are beautiful, the signal cinema­tog­raphy by Florian Hoffmeister veritably glows. The movie relies on various affectations that being an acquired taste is not easily developed until its finish, although immediately appreciated are its quick pace and some fun scenes with Gwyneth Paltrow. The staging is funny and the traveling scenes cute. It had a jazzy sound­track, the music groovy through­out. There are glimmers of clever semantic scrambling, and the mustache gag is perfect in its cheesiness.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I'm easy to please, but this one was difficult for me to swallow as I had very little media exposure during the 1970s when its style of humor was developed. I found myself liking it at the very end, but I'd rather there not be any sequels. If you have any kind of quirky taste and a forgiving sense of humor, you might like it, but if you're already jaded, forget it. Johnny Depp maintained his character throughout, so we can't blame him. Here he's a lover and a sophisticate trapped in the wrong decade, if not the wrong century.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: Some suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: three and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Apocryphal scripture taken from The Septuagint with Apoc­rypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrick­son Pub. Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Print, WEB.