Johnny Depp plays his good friend journalist Hunter S. Thompson in the latest movie he stars in, The Rum Diary, a semi-autobiographical account of the late journalist's that Depp helped to get published in 1998.
Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is an aimless journalist who transplants himself from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico. He comes under the employment of down-and-out editor (Richard Jenkins) who employs him only because he was the only applicant, and becoming colleagues with crazy photographer Sala (Michael Rispoli) and equally insane fellow journalist Moburg (Giovanni Ribisi). Starting with frivolous pieces, it wasn't long before he was approached by estate developer Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) for sweetened coverage of his land deals. Things get complicated when he falls for Sanderson's lover Chenault (Amber Heard) and he decides to answer the call of journalistic truth.
Through The Rum Diary, we take an interesting peek at Puerto Rico in 1960, when American capitalism first infiltrates the country and dramatically widens the inequality between the rich and the poor; the film thrusts American expatriates in extreme bad light with evil, scheming, manipulative American businessmen of which Eckhart performs brilliantly with ease.
The movie also touches on the self-realisation of a man's passion, right from the beginning when Kemp awakens in a hotel room, shocked by how trashed the room is before recalling what happened to making the decision to expose his fellow American. Depp, like Eckhart, plays his role fittingly. In fact, the cast's brilliant performance – with the exception of Heard's underdeveloped character – is one big reason this film and its almost non-existent plot holds up.
My take? The plot is weak but Depp himself makes the movie worth the watch but not on the big screen. Just a DVD will suffice.