Review: The Tourist
PLOT: Frank (Johnny Depp) is an American tourist taking a trip through Europe, while trying to mend a broken heart. One day, he crosses paths with an elegant beauty named Elise (Angelina Jolie) who seems to take an instant liking to this mild-mannered Math teacher. Turns out, Elise is using Frank as a decoy for her lover; an international criminal being hunted by a dogged Scotland Yard inspector (Paul Bettany), and a murderous mob boss (Steven Berkoff).
REVIEW: Well, THE TOURIST is very pretty, I'll give it that much. The stars are pretty, as are the locations, the clothes, heck, even the music is pretty. And pleasant. Yes, THE TOURIST is a pleasant film. It's like an elaborate appetizer, albeit, one served without a main course. Once THE TOURIST is over, you'll be mildly entertained, but hungry for something more substantial.
Considering the talent behind this heavily hyped Christmas thriller you'd expect a lot more than what THE TOURIST ultimately delivers. After all, it's got no less than three high-profile screenwriters responsible for the script, features perhaps the two biggest movie stars on the planet, and is directed by the man behind THE LIVES OF OTHERS, which is easily one of the best films of the last decade.
Ultimately, it's director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck who likely deserves the blame, as he seems utterly at a loss directing a big studio action thriller. This should have been an easy slam-dunk considering the cast, and the spy-plot but Donnersmarck simply doesn't seem to know what he's doing behind the camera, at least as far as THE TOURIST goes. Firstly, it takes a good forty minutes for the film to get going, but by that point I'll bet at least half of the audience has tuned out, as the first part is little more than a travelogue. Once the plot kicks in, we get three totally lifeless action scenes, including perhaps the dullest boat chase in history, taking place through the Venice canals. There's also a rooftop chase that tries to funny AND suspenseful, but ends up being neither. The editing is particularly slapdash, with a few glaring continuity errors (including a weird cut after Depp escapes gunmen by leaping onto a fruit stand).
Donnersmarck also doesn't seem to have a handle on Depp's performance, with all of his lines coming across like Depp's making them up as he goes along. Some of his improvisations are funny, and even inspired, but cut together they're too much and make the film impossible to take seriously. Another issue is the lack of chemistry between Depp and Jolie, who are totally mismatched, and seem more like brother and sister, than the red-hot lovers they're supposed to be. Sure, they both look great, but there's no spark whatsoever, and that proves to be fatal.
That said, both Jolie and Depp are in fine form here, although they fare better when apart than when together. It's strange how both seem so perfectly suited for their parts, but simply don't work as a pair. While I had an issue with the way Depp seems to be improvising everything, at least he seems to be having fun, so it's hard to dislike him in it. As for Jolie, nobody plays cool and sexy quite like she does, she looks so gorgeous here that at times you might find your jaw lying on the floor.
I also really enjoyed the supporting cast. While Bettany seems to be phoning it in a bit, I was thrilled to see ex-007 Timothy Dalton turn up as his supervisor. I've always said that Dalton could be another Brian Cox or Tom Wilkinson if given enough juicy supporting parts, and THE TOURIST proves my point. I also loved seeing eighties villain extraordinaire Steven Berkoff (OCTOPUSSY, RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART 2, BEVERLY HILLS COP) turn up as the baddie, although I was a little put off by how clichéd he ended up being (such as the scene where he strangles on of his own henchmen).
Obviously, everyone involved was trying to make a funny, sexy thriller in the mold of NORTH BY NORTHWEST, CHARADE, TO CATCH A THIEF or ARABESQUE, with this actually being a remake of a well-received French thriller, ANTHONY ZIMMER. However, THE TOURIST just doesn't work, and actually goes so wrong at times that it makes the film perversely fascinating. It proves that any film can misfire, even if it has top notch talent both in front and behind the camera. Releasing the film in the jam packed holiday season seems almost suicidal for Sony, but I suppose they're hoping the stars will manage to get butts in the seats before bad word-of-mouth starts to leak out. Nevertheless, I'd be very surprised if this is embraced by adult audiences the way THE TOWN, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, or even RED was, as despite the pedigree, THE TOURIST simply isn't very good.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Damn I wanted to like this movie!|