More than a Ninth Too Much
Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is an expert in rare books which is how he comes to meet collector Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) who has come to own one of the three known copies of "The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows". Believing that only one of the three copies is authentic he pays Corso to visit Portugal and France to examine the other copies and verify which one is authentic. But whilst sceptical about the supposed connection this book has to the devil Corso not only encounters strange events and death on his travels but finds himself being followed around by a mysterious girl (Emmanuelle Seigner) who comes to his rescue on more than one occasion when he is set upon by a heavy trying to get the Balkan's copy of the book which he has lent to Corso.
Ignore who stars in "The Ninth Gate" and who directed it for a minute and what you have is an effective but not that special thriller which sees a book expert gallivanting across Europe as he gets drawn into a mystery surrounding an ancient book, dodging death, avoiding heavies and so on. Yes it is far fetched and not because of the occult side and the mysterious girl who follows him around but because we have a book expert who doesn't flee when faced with danger or dead bodies. Basically whilst entertaining it is easy to pick holes in "The Ninth Gate" and get bored by it due to its over long nature with scenes which do little to add anything but length to the movie.
But then there is of course the stars of "The Ninth Gate" with both Johnny Depp and Frank Langella seemingly trying to play their parts dramatically but with a touch of the over the top humour to them as well. Whilst some, probably fans of Johnny Depp, will enjoy this almost slapstick side to his performance for me it doesn't work and all I will say is that I hope his sex face in this movie was meant to be as bad as it was. Thing is Depp is not the only one who plays it over the tip as Frank Langella and also Lena Olin both do the same which to me just jars with the dramatic and mysterious side of the story.
What this all boils down to is that "The Ninth Gate" is one of those movies which whilst being just about okay for some will definitely appeal more to those who are fans of Johnny Depp. The thing is that whilst it entertained me up to a point the various issues were not only annoying but in hindsight spoiled what could have been a really decent thriller rather than one with a conflicting tone.