Ooof. Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp have surprised me before (we’ll get to that below), but…this has the stink on it, doesn’t it? I don’t want to cast dispersions, but if I had to guess, we may be about to receive the big flop of the summer.
PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN
It’s hard to imagine now, in retrospect, but the shock of PIRATES is impossible to overstate. When first announced it was one of those “Hollywood is creatively and morally bankrupt” movies that made you depressed for the future of American cinema. A movie based on an amusement park ride, a Disney ride that is largely plotless, no less? What the Hell is this nonsense.
And, if I’m honest, even after buzz began to build for Johnny Depp’s weird, dizzy pirate Jack, I remained skeptical. I just could not believe. Even with Keira Knightley, someone I admit that I male gaze for with a certain zeal, couldn’t inspire me to buy a ticket. Then the reviews rolled in and the movie could no longer be ignored.
Years later, separate from both the pre-release dire predictions and the post-release shocked hype, PIRATES is…a pretty good movie. It is overlong and is retroactively hurt by the sequels, but Depp’s Jack and Geoffrey Rush as the villain refuse to yield to both the swirling darkness of that fact that they are in a movie inspired by a Disney ride and the script’s bloat. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a movie one should watch more than, say, twice lifetime, but as a Netflix pickup if you haven’t seen it before or you don’t remember it? Recommended.
So this is a weird choice, I admit, as a film to precede watching THE LONE RANGER, but here was why I’m choosing it: William Fichtner who plays the villain Butch Cavendish in LONE. Often one of the most interesting guy in movies that you still refer to as “you know, that guy,” Fichtner creates performances that fill the screen. Given enough room, he crafts characters that contain layers that you probably wouldn’t expected to see if you just read the script. A quick survey of great Fichtner work (in not necessarily great films) includes the robot sex fetishist District Attorney in DATE NIGHT, the Soviet second in command in PHANTOM, revolutionary Jurgen in EQUILIBRIUM (“Better than THE MATRIX.”), and Detective in love/lust Burke in GO.
However, his single biggest, splashiest, weirdest role is as The Accountant in DRIVE ANGRY. The Accountant is the very hands-on bean counter for Hell who’s books balance on the backs of souls not dollars and cents. He has a difficult sense of morality that is nonetheless seemingly set in stone and little concern with doing whatever he has to to ensure that morality is adhered to by everyone he encounters. DRIVE ANGRY is not a good movie, but Fichtner is stellar in it. It’s the kind of performance that makes a lousy movie (although I’d argue ANGRY is such a weird grimy thing that it is too interesting to be labeled lousy) still necessary to check out.
Recommended but feel free to fast forward to Fichtner’s parts if, early on, you don’t like ANGRY’s energy.