Cast: Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp), Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie), Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany), Chief Inspector Jones (Timothy Dalton), Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff)
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Theatrical release: 12/10/2010 DVD Date: 03/22/2011
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 104 minutes
Note(s): The screenplay was adapted from the 2005 French film Anthony Zimmer.
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Review: The Tourist stars Angelina Jolie as Elise Clifton-Ward, a woman of mystery, who is in love with Alexander Pearce, a fugitive from not only Scotland Yard (he owes some £744 million in back taxes) but also from a British mobster, from whom he stole billions of pounds. Believing Elise is the key to finding Pearce, both the good guys and the bad guys follow her around the clock. In a gambit to throw them off the track, Alexander devises a plan for Elise in which she is to select a random stranger aboard a train from Paris to Venice, who has the same general physical characteristics as Pearce, and convince them he is indeed Pearce. The lucky (unlucky?) guy is Frank Tupelo, played by Johnny Depp. To keep up the ruse, Elise and Frank continue to act as a couple in Venice, and though Frank thinks he's going to escort Elise around the Italian city and have the time of his life, he's really a pawn to be sacrificed to whichever group following them gets to him first.
This film has all the elements of a light, romantic comedy and suspense thriller yet is consistently none of these. On the romantic comedy side, neither Angelina Jolie nor Johnny Depp seems committed to their respective roles, resulting in uneven performances, most especially when they're in scenes together. Depp gets a few laughs now and then -- the various Italian reactions to his attempt to speak high school Spanish in Venice are funny -- but Jolie rarely elicits even a grin. Their nascent romance generates no sparks and never feels real, though to be fair, that's part of the point to the plot: she's using him.
On the suspense thriller side, the action sequences aren't terribly exciting and the two major plot twists -- one occurring about the mid-point, the other towards the end -- are foreshadowed so far in advance that they fail to evoke surprise in any meaningful way.
What the film has going for it is that it is undeniably gorgeous to look at. Venice is on display in all its glory (though some liberties have been taken with geography here and there), Angelina Jolie is beautiful as always, enhanced by stunning gowns and jewelry, and Johnny Depp is his usual rakishly scruffy self.
It's hard to isolate exactly what doesn't work here, but it seems to be a combination of uninspired direction and an unimaginative screenplay (the credits of which, incredibly, include Julian Fellowes, who won an Academy Award for Gosford Park; there's no evidence of that creativity here, though). This really isn't a bad film, it's just not a very good one.