As a pirate, and now as a journalist. I’m starting to think that Johnny Depp the human may just like rum.
Eager to flee his humdrum life in 1950s New York, booze-loving journalist Paul (Johnny Depp) moves to Puerto Rico and begins writing for a local rag, but his life becomes unhinged when he falls for a gorgeous woman (Amber Heard) and clashes with her shifty fiancé (Aaron Eckhart).
Even though I have never seen ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘, I have heard nothing but good and crazy things which is why I was kind of anticipating seeing a film with Depp playing another Hunter S. Thompson character. However, I think I need to check out Fear and Loathing instead.
Director Bruce Robinson does his best to make this adaptation at least mildly amusing but just can’t do too much in the end. There are moments of humor that kept me laughing, and other parts where I like how they down-played all of the humor but the problem with this film is that the drama kicks in and it’s just so dry and boring that the film almost seems a bit uneven. Nothing really happens the whole time, or at least that’s what it seems like and although I was watching I still had no idea where this film was trying to go, let alone actually say.
My real problem with this film is that nothing ever really felt at stake and instead of wondering just where this story was going to go in a suspenseful kind of way, I tried to understand just why the hell this film was meandering. If Depp’s character, Paul joins these bad-guys and practically sells his soul to the devil, then something not too good will happen. That not too good thing never popped up once and I never even cared if he joined them or not. What was even more annoying was how the film had these little constant bits of energy that seemed like a total amount of fun, but then they would get knocked down by some real dry drama or moments of nothing really happening to the point of where I actually heard a yawn.
Remember that awesome, kick-ass trailer? Yeah, I did too, and I felt cheated when I found out that this was just a lazy attempt at trying to re-create the craziness that I hear Fear and Loathing did.There’s probably one scene where there are drugs taken and probably the funniest and most memorable of the whole film, and I never quite understood why the film didn’t keep on going for that constantly weird and crazy vibe that it could have easily benefited from.
Although, I may knock on this film a whole bunch I still did have some fun with this film and that’s probably because the beautiful sights of this film. The film takes place in 1960’s Puerto Rico and it really feels like a love-letter to it with all of the sun-lights, wide-open beaches, and ridiculously sexy mama citas that were all over the place. Hell, even the poor and little under-belly of Puerto Rico looked nice and that seems really really hard to do. If only the beauty of the cinematography could have got translated to some of its direction and writing.
At the beginning of the film, I thought Paul Kemp was going to be an incredibly quirky and funny dude but after the opening scene, Johnny Depp plays Kemp fairly low-key, which will probably disappoint a lot of people. He’s more of the silent observer in this film and doesn’t drink as much rum as the title and cool poster would have you think at first. This isn’t a bad performance by any means, but it’s fairly just disappointing since I would have liked to see him get a little zanier and a lot more fun to watch.
I’m also a little bothered at the fact that Depp is playing a dude that’s just starting out in his career as a journalist, when in reality, Depp is 48. Yes, I know it seems totally insane that Captain Jack Sparrow is old enough to be a 21st Century pop-pop and it gets even weirder when he starts this romance with Amber Heard’s character, who is about 25 herself. Maybe I was the only one who was a tad bothered by this but he seems to be getting too old for some of these roles and I think it may be time for roles that suit him a lot better, whatever they may be.
Speaking of Amber Heard, she’s pretty disappointing here as Chenault although she uses her sexiness to her advantage. She’s been so much better in a lot of other films and it’s a real shame when the film sort of totally gets rid of her by the last act. Aaron Eckhart plays her boyfriend, Sanderson, and is a total and complete disappointment in this film because he just a one-note character the whole time, which takes a lot more momentum out of this film. Giovanni Ribisi plays a drunken dude named Moburg and is a lot of fun on-screen, even though his character seems totally random considering the tone of this film; Richard Jenkins is a lot of fun to watch as Paul’s editor-in-chief and gives a surprisingly smart speech on Puerto Rico that was one of the few moments that actually interested me; and Michael Rispoli plays Paul’s new best-buddy, Sala, and really keeps the moments he and Depp have on-screen, some of the best and funniest moments of this film.
Consensus: The Rum Diary has its moments where it can be fun, beautiful to look at, and have feature some very good performances from the whole cast but has an uneven tone that sort of meanders over its whole 2-hour time-limit and feels like a film that could have been so much better, if it had so much more rum-drinking that the previews and poster were suggesting.