110 minutes| U.S.A.| 2011| Colour| D-Cinema

After 19 years out of the director’s chair, Bruce Robinson returns with this adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s early novel, chronicling the corrupt machinations of sun-splashed late 1950s Puerto Rico. Johnny Depp is at his least mannered and most assured as a wastrel journo discovering his scruples while working on the local English-language rag, which is appropriate given the actor’s key role in the whole undertaking – a moving force in the 2005 publication of Thompson’s youthful manuscript, he also insisted that Robinson was the only man to bring it to the screen. His legendary status assured by the much-loved Withnail & I, Robinson is quickly back in the groove here, balancing raucous comedy with righteous anger at the iniquities of the powerful, and providing Aaron Eckhart with a tailor-made role as a real-estate hustler who’s a charming scoundrel.

Above all, this feels like the product of Robinson’s own maverick sensibility, while also doing justice to Thompson’s subsequent rep as an authority-baiting firebrand. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

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