Sophistication has a name
Remember when I mentioned back in Kingsman that it's been a while since I saw a spy flick that I really enjoyed? Well, I'd try and use the same setup for the whole under-ground art selling circuit movie, but I couldn't really think of any of them. I mean, my memory is bad yes, but totally drawing a null there - The closest I can come up with is Monuments Men, but that was more of a war-kind of flick then it was particularly a particular art-thief kind of flick. The closest thing I could think of with this installment of "Depp plays a weird character" was actually (maybe not so oddly) Mr. Bean. Is that a good thing? I guess that's a real mustache question.
Mortdecai is a bit of a black-market art dealer. He finds things people want, through whichever means, and then sells them - unfortunately business hasn't been all that good. He's in quite the debt, and it won't be long before his wife and he are living the life of the common folk, and that simply just won't do. Saddened by the fact his wife plans to remedy this by selling off some of his things - pictures, cars, the likes - he's decided he's growing a mustache. It's apparently a long-running family tradition of sorts - one that his wife isn't particularly keen on. In a not-so-bizarre twist however, the MI5 finds themselves calling on him once again when an art cleaner is found murdered and the picture she was cleaning stolen.
Ordinarily, this wouldn't be something that would have been such a big deal, but in this case the culprit would appear to be an extremist of some sort - meaning national security is on table. As such, they come to Mortdecai as he's their main insight into the seedy art world. He sets off on his quest to find the painting with his faithful man-servant by starting on his main lead into the art dealings world. No leads turn up there - but because of it rumor starts getting around - so he moves on to his next contact. Meanwhile, we see his wife is doing her own research of sorts - although we don't really know why just yet.
Mortdecai's next contact is killed while he is talking to him by the extremist after the painting that was stolen from him while he was stealing it. There's a fun little action scene between the two and the man-servant (who also serves as the muscle for Mortdecai), which ends with a trip to the original crime scene and the discovery of some clues! Turns out, it wasn't about the painting they thought it was, but rather a legendary picture that was thought lost for the longest of times, only to be resurfaced and have a nazi soldier mark his swiss bank accounts with hordes of money and fine wines in it before vanishing again! Now the race is really on, as the British don't want it to fall into some crazy nationalists hands, and even more "art dealer" type start popping up out of the woodworks looking for Mortdecai - whom they all think has the painting!
Actors do a good job here, and it's certainly one thing that can't be faulted by arguably anyone who watches it. The characters themselves, on the other hand, are certainly going to sit on the annoying side for some. The main character is classic "weird" Depp, which at this point I feel some people are rather sick off. It didn't bother me that much, but it also felt as though it was providing less humor by being the main character and more humor for just existing against the other characters. The interactions, for example, between his man-servant and himself then to provide some laughs (such as his propensity towards accidentally wounding him). Outside of that though, the character of Mortdecai feels a lot like an over-talkative Mr. Bean to me, and that's something that's going to be a hit-or-miss.
The humor itself can likewise be a tad hit or miss - it tends to reuse the same gags over and over, similar in a sense to tv shows such as Archer, wherein by the "last time" they use the gag you know you are fully sick of it, and yet it still gets a chuckle out of you despite it. Beyond that, if you don't find 'over the top wacky British aristocrat' funny, then most of the movie will fall flat in its face for you. There are a few action scenes - two or three car based ones as well as another two or three non-vehicular, and they spread the comedy out through those as well, so it never feels like it's devoting itself to actually be an action movie over it's comedy side.
The plot does manage to actually carry a bit of mystery and intrigue to it. You really wouldn't think so - especially with Depp's character constantly voicing over any scene that would normally just be a quiet transition - but the inclusion of having his wife doing all this digging on the object really starts making you interested in just why exactly she is. Is she the thief who thief ed the thief? Is she some kind of secret agent? Is she just way too inquisitive about stuff? The painting also has that interesting arc to it, wherein it starts just like we would all wonder - "why is this painting that important anyways" - until the discovery that it's something way more than what it was thought to be comes out. There's even a few extra twists towards the ending that were well played as well.
If you aren't a fan of Depp in the role of quirky, weird characters, then this isn't gonna be your cup of tea. If you do, you'll probably like it. It never felt during the course of me watching it that I'd rather do something else - although I don't think I'm going out of my way to rewatch it any time soon, which would place it pretty solidly in the middle ground of my movie viewing. It has some jokes in there, but the repetitious nature of them can get to be bland at times, so I don't think there's going to be massive eruptions of laughter out of everyone in the room (although some will probably still find it pretty funny regardless). It's not bad, but I'd strongly recommend a rental before you go out and buy it.