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Review: Latest Pirates of the Caribbean film tries to reset franchise

Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) pursues Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he searches for the trident used by Poseidon.

Peter Mountain

2 out of 4 stars

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Written by
Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio
Directed by
Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg
Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario

You know your franchise is taking on water when it's making in-jokes about in-jokes. As per his recent tweet, Paul McCartney appears in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a sly reference to a cameo from fellow rocker Keith Richards in a previous episode, itself a sly reference to Johnny Depp's inspiration for the kohl-eyed and bejewelled trickster, Captain Jack Sparrow. Now in its fifth outing and trying to press reset after an unnecessary fourth movie, Depp's campy performance in that role is losing crucial energy and humour. Meanwhile, the attempt to pass the story on to a new generation is weakened by wooden acting from Brenton Thwaites as a young man seeking Poseidon's mythical trident. Playing his love interest, Kaya Scodelario is stronger as a sharp-tongued astronomer with a crucial map, but the most engaging performance is Javier Bardem's solidly nasty Captain Salazar, the undead commander of a ghost ship. His disintegrating skin and holey crew are fabulously rendered as evaporating digitizations: It's the special effects and swelling action sequences that make the movie palatable. McCartney, by the way, is just fine.

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