It must take a special kind of talent to make a film as dull as The Tourist. This astonishingly clumsy thriller stars Angelina Jolie as an icy Brit named Elise, who’s being followed around the streets of Paris by a team of Scotland Yard detectives in the hope that she will lead them to her lover-in-hiding, who’s stolen millions of dollars from a dreaded London gangster. To throw them off the trail, Elise picks up Johnny Depp’s character, Frank, a math teacher from Wisconsin who’s vacationing in Europe. Pretty soon both the cops and the mobster’s henchmen are chasing after them through the canals in Venice, believing him to be the fugitive thief.
The premise itself has potential, and in the right hands this film could have been a throwback to those classic caper films like Charade and To Catch a Thief. But the sloppy dialogue and ridiculous plot twists turn this film into a close cousin of that other botched romantic thriller, Knight and Day.
For one, Jolie and Depp have zero chemistry, which is shocking to say the least, considering they’re both such desirable stars independently. Jolie looks particularly stunning in every costume change – and believe me, there are many! – but her distractingly good looks tend to be a hindrance in this film. So focused on getting her clipped British accent right, and so burdened under the weight of those eyelashes, she forgets to invest any personality into her character. Depp, who’s meant to look frumpy, appears bored out of his wits and seems to be going through his scenes mechanically.
There’s a twist in the end which you can see from a mile away; and even the action – which involves speedboat chases through the canals, and foot chases on building roof-tops – isn’t particularly thrilling.
Most shocking of all, however, is the pedigree of this film. It’s almost impossible to believe that three Academy Award-winners are responsible for this embarrassing film. Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck made the Oscar-winning German drama, The Lives of Others. His co-writers on this film include Christopher McQuarrie who won a Screenwriting Oscar for The Usual Suspects and Julian Fellowes who won the same for Gosford Park.
There is a word to describe films like The Tourist – they’re ‘paycheck’ movies. The kind of films that everyone involved is doing only for the money! Be equally smart yourself, and don’t waste your money on this film.
I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for The Tourist. At best, it serves as a travel brochure for Venice. Save up and make a trip there instead!