Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (Dead Men Tell no Tales in other territories) introduces Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of the series’ Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). He has spent much of his life trying to find a way to free his father from the curse of the Dutchman. His only hope is a treasure known as Poseidon’s trident, which as legends have it, is impossible to find. He seeks out the services of notorious pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), and gets some unexpected help from Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant young woman with a scientific mind in search of answers regarding a father she never knew.One should likely make mention of the villain: Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), a Spanish pirate hunter once defeated by Jack Sparrow, now the captain of an invincible ship of ghosts recently set free to sail the open seas once again. Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), his reign of the seas threatened by this supernatural crew, makes a deal with Salazar to help him find Sparrow and get his revenge. There are a lot of moving parts in this story, and the film barely makes an effort to make them all work together. It is just another soulless exercise in blockbuster filmmaking, the story secondary to the delivery of VFX spectacle.The narrative can’t stand up to any scrutiny. The movie isn’t even really able to justify the involvement of Jack Sparrow in this story. If anything, the aloof, unpredictable pirate captain feels like a detriment to Henry Turner’s quest to find Poseidon’s trident. But he is there, because of course he’s there. He’s the franchise. The movie just takes his involvement for granted, and as with many of the other basic elements of the plot, it foregoes the rudiments of good storytelling in favor of narrative expedience. A character might state out loud that the only ship that can outrun Salazar is the Black Pearl. Cut to ten minutes later, and Salazar has caught up with the Black Pearl. Nothing is important. Nothing matters.It becomes clear after a point that the film just wants to get to the big action set pieces as quickly as possible. And this would all be a little easier to swallow if those set pieces were any good. There are a handful of cool stunts, but the movie falls short of what previous installments have already done. It favors chaos over clarity, cutting wildly through scenes of frantic action that almost invariably take place under murky lighting. When you can actually see what’s going on, these sequences can be enjoyable. But that doesn’t happen often enough.New cast members Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario have trouble making much of an impression. Not a lot of thought seems to have really put into the conception of their characters. They are both blandly heroic in the same way that their predecessors were, minus the chemistry and the necessary screen time that would give their romance any juice. Johnny Depp remains the central focus of the movie, and his shtick is really getting old. There is really much more to Jack Sparrow than a collection of affectations, and it’s clear that Depp has nothing else to offer in this role.Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is dreadfully passionless. For all of its romantic, pirate-y, swashbuckling aspirations, the movie feels like it was cobbled together by machines. It has no ambitions beyond extending the life of the franchise by introducing new, younger cast members, and delivering the same type of wacky action sequences that the series has been known for. There’s no trace of emotion left in any of its scenes, no sense that there is a person behind it who just really wants to tell a story.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR’S REVENGE IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.