The Tourist (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
24Mar/110

The Tourist (2010)

Andrew INDIFFERENTAh, such are the mysteries of time.  Five years ago movies like Hostel were reflecting the xenophobic animosity that Americans perceived on themselves and that we projected on other countries as lusty lads paraded abound Europe until their inevitable kidnapping and torture.  Now The Tourist is set to remind us that European travel is still a jolly good time and you might even be hit on by Angelina Jolie.  Too bad The Tourist isn't nearly as fun as that thought, but it tries.

Unfortunately The Tourist is one of those films that exist in a state of "I can't talk about it lest I ruin it".  The results aren't so earthshaking that I feel a desperate need to conceal pivotal plot points here, but in the interest of fairness here's a vague plot synopsis.

Angelina Jolie is Elise Clifton-Ward, a mysterious beauty who is being followed through Paris by Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany) in search of the elusive criminal Alexander Pearce.  Seems Elise was caught up in some kind of dealings with Alexander in the past and may be getting ready to take part in another heist when she receives a letter saying that she needs to stop looking for him, and that he will be much different even if they meet again.

Johnny Depp could have been switched out for Hugh Grant and all the charming befuddlement would have made far more sense.

So after disappearing into a crowd to elude the Inspector she boards a train and looks for a hapless man that looks like Alexander so she can seduce him as a decoy.  It's here that she meets the sheepish Frank (Johnny Depp), a tourist visiting from the states who would much rather read spy novels then live them out.

Soon enough Elise and Frank find themselves tailed by unsavory types and Frank is getting a taste of the dangerously fun side of life.  Since this involves jumping from roof-top to roof-top in dapper sleepwear and dancing with Elise, it seems to be a fun ride for all.

Sadly, this isn't the case.  The Tourist is by no means a horrible film and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (of The Lives of Others) tries his hardest to keep the tone light.  The opening chase built on misdirection and sly glances was a good bit of fun and there are lines sprinkled throughout the dialogue that made me smile, but someone needed to pull Johnny Depp aside and have a good talk with him.

It's clear that The Tourist wasn't destined for cinematic greatness but it could have been a lot more fun had Johnny Depp not seeemed so tuned completely out of the picture.  It's not like the Marlon Brando twilight years when he would phone in performances from three continents away.  Rather, it's like Depp had the basic idea that he was supposed to be dashing and funny, not just awkward and fumbling.  Angelina Jolie is pitch perfect as the sexy and mysterious Elise and her few scenes with Paul Bettany reveal that he and Depp should have traded places.

Which brings me to another point, why is Paul Bettany in so many bad to mediocre movies these days?

But since Depp is the lead, there's very little that can be done to salvage the rapidly descending energy of the film as time goes on.  There's at least one scene where Depp seems to have the perfect idea of how to play this character out that ends with a bit of domination from Depp as he grabs Jolie's hair and kisses her deeply.  But that turns out to be a dream which, in the context of the character, makes sense he wouldn't have that kind of gumption but...

Blast.  Having all the facts of the plot make this moment that much more awkward to analyze in the context of the film.  Let's just say everyone has their secrets, and the more we find out about Frank, the less the fact that he would even have that dream sequence makes any sort of sense.

The frequent comparisons to Charade are a bit off the mark.  The Tourist is more of a subdued version of The Thomas Crown Affair which, if you've seen the original, is a movie that needs to be anything but subdued.  Depp and co. didn't make the travesty that others have hailed it as, but it would have been nice to at least pretend that Jolie and Depp's characters wanted to sleep with each other.  Really, that shouldn't be so hard.

The Tourist (2010)
Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
Written by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck,  Christopher McQuarrie, and Julian Fellowes.
Starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.

Posted by Andrew

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