News Article

Gotta Give Him Credit

Leonardo DiCaprio's newest project -- The star shills for credit cards on Japanese TV

Attention, Leonardo DiCaprio fans: The heartthrob's first post-superstardom project is out! It's action packed, it's cleverly slick, and there's no way in hell you're ever going to see it. That's because Leo's new opus is a 15-second commercial for Japanese TV. The spot — part of a reported $4 million deal — features the 23-year-old star shilling for Orico credit cards. DiCaprio will again be denied an Oscar for this performance, as the Academy traditionally neglects foreign commercials. But how does the piece stack up critically? We asked EW senior writer A.J. Jacobs to review the filmlet:

Like the slightly longer Titanic, DiCaprio's latest work tells the age-old story of good versus evil. Leo, looking Reservoir Dogs sharp in black suit and tie, plays a detective who bursts into a swanky Japanese bar. He spots the bad guy and decks him with a right. When the commotion's over, a meek waiter asks in Japanese, ''So who's paying the bill, sir?'' Leo flashes some plastic and replies in English: ''Orico card. Okay?''

Granted, as film noir the work has weaknesses. Character development is limited (DiCaprio displays only two emotions: anger and smugness), and the simplistic dialogue makes Titanic's platitudes sound like Ibsen. But the plot zips forward, and, perhaps most important, Leo comes into his own as an action star. Gone are the moon-eyed artist, the lovestruck boy, the dim-witted teen. He's finally a man! (Yes, there was The Man in the Iron Mask, but how macho can you be in a puffy shirt?)

We know he's huge in Japan, but why deprive America? Put this in theaters and He Got Game will be history. B+

Originally posted May 15, 1998 Published in issue #432 May 15, 1998 Order article reprints