Eager to flee his humdrum life in 1950s New York, booze-loving journalist Paul moves to Puerto Rico and begins writing for a local rag, but his life becomes unhinged when he falls for a gorgeous woman and clashes with her shifty fiancé.
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Blah. It had a few moments, but it trailed off into three or four films that led nowhere. It tried to lay the foundation of Thompson's writing, but it also wanted to have its cake as a romance and a political thriller with bits of the gonzo.
The pairing of writer-director Bruce Robinson with Hunter S. Thompson source material would seem to promise some good raucous entertainment, but the result is surprisingly tame. Depp is fine, and the supporting cast is good - particularly a fun over the top Giovanni Ribisi. It's pleasant enough, but it's lacking in energy and weighted down by the usual Hollywood plot contrivances. A disappointment.
I can see this being the last Hunter S. Thompson film we'll see. Both times a film has been made about the man, starring Johnny Depp, they have been both critical and financial failures. This was mildly entertaining, but its focus wasn't big, its delivery was soft, and only a few real laugh out loud moments. Too many supporting roles was the problem, I think. I only really cared about Kemp and Sala.
I thought this was better than Fear and Loathing in some ways. The fact that it was more, you know, sane results in a candidness that Gilliam's film lacks. Truth be told, I found The Rum Diary's low point to be the hallucination scene--way too derivative of F&L. But let's not be pretentious here: Johnny Depp flamethrowing alcohol out of his mouth onto an unsuspecting police officer is pretty great.
Some funny moments and a few great insights of the central character's writing, but all the efforts by Johnny Depp and Bruce Robinson to make a round film fall flat, the story is not fluid, the tone rambles, the romance has zero chemistry, all the potential situations for hilarity fade away too soon.
Hunter S and Depp together again..should have been great but it suffers from the wrong director, a pointless love interest and a really poorly under-developed last 30 mins. The drug scene was pretty bang-on, cinematography solid and performances all decent enough. Production design is top rate too. 2.5 stars
Johnny Depp spent years trying to get this one made, but the result is so deprived of energy, vitality and quite frankly; talent, that it's probably both the biggest disappointment of the year and the final sign of Depp's carreer fatigue. What a terrible, terrible movie!