Director: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg
Cast: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Geoffrey Rush
Cinema, indeed, is a box full of surprises! And at times, pushes us into an alley of dismay. Can you imagine ‘Titanic’ without the uninhibited Jack? Would you like to watch ‘Rambo’ all over again sans the beefy and very loud Sylverster Stallone? In this latest instalment of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ the screenplay writer has committed the Himalayan blunder of keeping its diminishing franchise’s most, and only, iconic character at bay. Amid parallel-running sub-plots and plethora of freshly introduced, resolute characters, where is the drunken, eccentric, droll Jack Sparrow we all shell our money out for? He is lost in the sea, making room for others to rise and shine.
When you create a cracker of a character like Sparrow, it is criminal to snatch him away. Serve him, and in abundance!
‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge’ (also known as ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’) is an amalgamation of the franchise’s once hit formula- hunt down the nemesis and resurrect the Black Pearl (a ship whose ownership is the battleground between Captain Barbossa and Sparrow), done in an insipid fashion, with uncoordinated chases adding to the woe. Not one, not two, but four characters are on the road, chasing away, often aimlessly. The fact that Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg directed the 2012 expedition flick ‘Kon-Tiki’ and are recipients of Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, does not qualify them to be able successors to original director Gore Verbinski, who, frankly, made the most endurable films of the lot- ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl’ and ‘Dead Man’s Chest’. Dry humour is the defence mechanism that this 230-million budget film is riding on. If anything, the directors should have instilled a hook or a severe conflict in the plot.
Orphaned by pirates, a vengeful sea tyrant Armando Salazar takes it upon himself to wipe off the pirate clan from the sea. But the curse of being undead befalls on the menacing Salazar after an encounter with Sparrow and crew. Ever since, Salazar is intent on hunting Sparrow down and exacting his revenge (hence the last minute name change, get it?). Looking at Javier Bardem’s grade sheet in villainous roles, ‘No Country for Old Men’ character Anton Chigurh, or his Bond baddie Silva, his entry into the perishing franchise is a smart move that makes it a tad bit riveting, if not worth the two-hour long torture. Javier is unrecognisable, malicious and a creep that you would like to watch, should the makers decide on making a sixth instalment. Of all the villains that ‘Pirates’ have incorporated in their stories over the past decade, Javier has the most sinister methodology, grind ships and leave behind a man so that he could tell the tale.
The haphazard script does have two surprises- ones that involve parentage- but that alone would not make up for the creative wound that this directionless plot has inflicted. Pirates 5 goes astray through multiple chases- the Devil’s triangle, Poseidon’s trident, a compass, a map guided by the stars that no men can read, a witch (please read horologist), a traitor and Jack Sparrow. The newcomers have wrecked the ship with their novice-like filmmaking techniques. CGI does save it for a while but what is Pirates without Jack Sparrow?
The role, that once earned Johnny Depp an Oscar nomination, sees him take a backseat in the face of conflict; not typical of Sparrow, is it? The nemesis gets taken down by passing characters while he watches on in powerlessness. And the closing shot- which is bit of a healer, if I may add- is so Bollywood in its treatment that you would reach out for your tissue wondering how could someone cough up 200 million, in the hope of turning it into a blockbuster, with a clumsily written swashbuckler like that....