Ninth Gate, The

Rated – “R”
Johnny Depp, Frank Langella

Roman Polansky (Rosemary’s Baby) tackles the devil one more time in “The Ninth Gate”, although you’d think by now he could conjure up a bit more energy in doing so. Johnny Depp, as Dean Corso, master investigator of antiquated books, appears to be waltzing through his role. For someone being stalked and threatened with death at every turn, you’d think he’d want to “step on it” when the going gets rough. He’s way too casual and subsequently that’s exactly how we view this movie – way too casual.

There are some very nice humorous and odd touches thrown in for good measure and we certainly do appreciate that, but overall, “The Ninth Gate” fails us, particularly in its totally anti-climactic and especially confusing ending.

Depp’s Corso is an unscrupulous locator of rare books. He’s called upon by client Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) to locate the two other copies of “The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows”, a seventeenth century rarity supposedly written with the help of the devil himself. Balkan gives Corso his only copy for him to compare notes and find out which of the three remaining copies might be a fake. Authenticity matters because the book is said to have the power to conjure up the devil. As soon as Corso leaves with Balkan’s book, he is followed by an enigmatic woman and people around him meet hideous deaths.

Corso traipses around Europe looking for the books and discovers interesting secrets along the way. All the while, he’s shadowed by his new “protector”, the same woman seen earlier (Emmanuelle Seigner). Corso believes she’s in cahoots with Balkan who appears to be willing to do anything to get his hands on all three copies of “The Nine Gates…” Where does this woman go when she’s not around to protect Corso from dastardly murderers? We don’t know and Corso’s oblivious. She’s constantly disappearing. You’d think Corso would start wondering too.

Lotta says: Visually, this is a movie with great atmosphere. But Depp’s performance, as stated earlier, is a little perplexing. The film is too laid-back for its own good but thriller lovers will enjoy the hunt nonetheless.