The Tourist * * 1/2

Genre: Drama / Thriller

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck 

Writers: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes, based on the motion picture Anthony Zimmer by Jerome Salle

Cast: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff, Rufus Sewell

Running Length: 103 minutes

Synopsis: Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp), an American tourist in Europe who is en route to Venice, chances a meeting with Elise Ward (Angelina Jolie), a mysterious but ravishing British belle. Unbeknownst to Frank, Elise had engineered the meeting to throw her pursuers off the scent of her lover who had stolen a huge sum of money from mobsters. Frank is gradually led into a web of intrigue, romance and danger as his involvement with Elise deepens, and a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues.

Review: Released earlier this month in the US, The Tourist received an overwhelmingly negative critical reception, and didn’t fare so well at the box office either. This may point to The Tourist being a terrible movie, but I found that apart from the really farfetched plot, the film is sufficiently entertaining as a glossy, leave-your-brain-at-the-door thriller, starring two of the biggest movie stars in the world and set amidst breathtaking scenery. In other words, it’s an escapist film that’s perfect for the holiday season. No Oscar glory for sure, but perfectly serviceable as a two hour diversion.

Both Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp have proven in other films that they have plenty of thespian talent, but this is not on show in The Tourist. Angelina Jolie is paid to look, well, like Angelina Jolie, and she of course does this with supreme ease. Dressed in fancy couture and dripping with jewellery, her role in the movie almost seems to be making one red carpet appearance after another. Depp, on the other hand, dials down his sex appeal, giving a very by-the-numbers portrayal of a bumbling American tourist with a heart of gold. Depp does seem to be a bit bored by the role but not to the extent of looking like he’s dialing in his performance. While the two individual performances can’t be faulted much, the chemistry that should be present between the two leads is strangely lacking.

The Tourist is also quite a preposterous film, filled to the brim with movie clichés, and plot twists so telegraphed that you could spot them from miles away. Even the obligatory action sequences are crippled somewhat – there’s never a sense that any of the leads are in any form of true danger, and their characterization is so thin that it’s hard to feel vested for their survival.

Yet in spite of all this, The Tourist works. The gorgeous Venetian scenery is flawless, thanks to veteran cinematographer John Seale, and if one doesn’t question the plot too much, this really is quintessential cinematic fluff – not a hundred percent satisfactory, but good enough to not make it feel like a waste of time. Could it have been a better film? Sure – given the pedigree of almost everyone involved, it almost feels like a crime that the outcome is so decidedly average, but that doesn’t make The Tourist any worse when judged on its own merits.

Rating: * * 1/2 (out of four stars)


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