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). Written and directed by Bruce Robinson, this adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s early novel also stars Richard Jenkins as Paul’s editor.
Bruce Robinson is perhaps best known for having penned the award-winning script to the powerful exposé The Killing Fields (1984), but he is also a former actor and a director. He received training in drama at London’s School of Speech and Drama and made his first screen appearance in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968). After an undistinguished decade as a thespian, Robinson became an author and screenwriter. He became a director a decade after that with the autobiographical ensemble comedy Whithnail & I (1987), the story of two aspiring actors in 1969. —allmovie guide
I enjoyed majority of the film. Obviously, when the source material is Hunter Thompson and Depp is playing Thompson's alter ego Paul Kemp, it's going to be compelling in some manner. Unfortunately, I was extremely underwhelmed by the final third of the film. The Frankie Miller song over the end credits was an excellent treat, but overall the film just didn't have the cojones of Hunter's writing.
As I see it, the story was good a good one, it held a solid structure and had the acting to back it up. I also admire Johnny Depp as as artist and an actor and I believe he really brought something to this film. However I found some of the camera work to be flawed, the plot a bit confused, and the ending...unfinished and unresolved. I believe this had a lot of potential, but failed to meet its mark.
The stories behind both the novel and the film sound more engaging than the “passion-project homage” itself.