The Tourist - movie review
Who's saying what
But let’s put the shot in context: The Tourist kicks off with two French police officers watching Elise Ward (Angelina Jolie) walk down the street. One asks the other if he thinks she’s wearing underwear. Cut to a screen-filling close-up of her arse. Yep, it’s that kind of film. In fact, it’s safe to say that your enjoyment of this film is directly related to how physically desirable you find Jolie, because even inside the film pretty much all everyone does is stare at her as she walks by. If you’re on-board with that, feel free to add another star to the rating. If you’re not then there’s always Johnny Depp, who here dials down the wacky bug-eyed staring that’s been his trademark for the last few years and does a surprisingly solid job of playing an actual, believable human being.
Which turns out to be important, because something’s got to be realistic in this extended perfume ad of a film: Elise is being watched on the streets of Paris because she’s married to the mysterious Alexander Pearce, a thief who’s made off with a kazillion pounds (seriously, it’s a ridiculous amount) from some sinister gangster type. Pearce skips her a note telling her to get on a train to Venice, find a guy roughly his height and build, and persuade the watching police that it’s him.
Enter US math teacher Frank Tupelo (Depp), the kind of gormless pratt who smokes a fake cigarette and yet somehow has that certain something about him that only comes from being played by Johnny Depp. They arrive in Venice, she takes him back to the hotel, he gets left on the couch and it’s all for nothing because the police have figured out it’s all a scam anyway.
But just when this is looking like the world’s first twenty-five minute blockbuster, the gangster Pearce stole the quadrillion pounds from, one Mr. Shaw (Steven Berkoff) gets word that Pearce is in Venice. So now Tupelo is being menaced by thugs, Ward is trying to save him because it’s all her fault, and the police – led by Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany) and who, with their square jaws and designer stubble, all seem to come from Handsome Squad– are hoping all this brings the real Pearce out of hiding.
This whole concoction is so lightweight it could be used to inflate blimps, and while it does feature good-looking people against a good looking backdrop doing supposedly exciting things, it becomes increasingly obvious that the film-makers (including director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who’s previous film was the European arthouse hit The Lives of Others, making this one bizarre career turn) forgot to give us a reason to care about anything these glamourous people do or say.
Oddly, Berkoff turns out to save the day here, playing a nasty, brutal killer who seemingly wandered over from some trashy direct-to-DVD Guy Ritchie knock-off. Sure, we’ve all seen henchmen get strangled for incompetence before but he does it with such glee it’s hard not to be a little unnerved by it, especially as up until now the only question of interest in this totally forgettable film has been whether there was going to be another massive close-up of Jolie’s arse.
The Tourist opens in cinemas on December 26, 2010.
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