Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is at its best with its feet firmly placed on dry land. The first act features some inventive and amusing capers in the port of St Martin, but unfortunately the film gets completely lost when it heads out to sea. MacGuffins are stacked on top of MacGuffins, prophecies and destinies are befuddlingly fulfilled, and allies are double-crossed at the drop of a three-pointed hat. To sum up: it’s a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
Javier Bardem is fine as the ghoulish Captain Salazar, although brief flashbacks to his pre-afterlife life suggest a more interesting character is lurking behind his ghostly form. Every Pirates film has featured a supernatural male captain as the villain, and the “cursed ship” routine is well-trod territory by now. Generally everything about Salazar’s Revenge feels familiar, from the constantly shifting allegiances and rapidly nonsensical plot, to the over-reliance on Johnny Depp to “be funny” with schtick that felt tired three films ago.
More egregious is the lack of female characters. Kaya Scodelario puts in an admirable performance as the franchise’s latest female lead – it’s just a shame she doesn’t have more to bounce off, other than her bland and forgettable co-star Brenton Thwaites. The only other significant female character is Golshifteh Farahani’s mysterious sea-witch Shansa, who drops in to set up future sequels and is then promptly discarded. The charm Farahani displayed in full force for Paterson is criminally wasted here – even Paul McCartney is given more character development.
Franchise diehards will get their required fix of swashbuckling nonsense, but if you left the series after World’s End, this isn’t worth returning for. That said, while the well-publicised cameos are brief, it’s bloomin’ satisfying to see old friends return to the franchise, even if only for a final swansong.
CAST: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffery Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario
DIRECTORS: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
WRITER: Jeff Nathanson
SYNOPSIS: Captain Jack Sparrow finds the winds of ill fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea… including him.