Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Starring: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie
Runtime: 104 Minutes
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The basic premise of The Tourist sees Johnny Depp’s titular holiday-maker lured into a trap of mistaken identity by Angelina Jolie’s siren temptress. Tramping their way through Paris and then Venice, at all times pursued by an array of Scotland Yard detectives and mobsters, Frank and Elsie must stave off every bad cliché in the book to remain alive. The film flirts with action, comedy and romance but simply looks like a jack of all trades and a master of none. The Tourist relies too heavily on the popularity of its stars: enough to make you wonder if any conscious decision was made to make the film in a particular genre or whether it was just easier not to bother, with the Jolie-Depp partnership bound to get bums on seats regardless.
I’m not one to worship at the altar of Angelina Jolie; nor am I the type to suckle at the sump-pump of Johnny Depp-ism, and sadly, The Tourist gave me absolutely no reason to do either. Depp’s role as the tourist, a simple, everyman Maths teacher from Wisconsin, doesn’t show him at his best. He just doesn’t sell himself in this role, despite high-as-ever expectations, perhaps just because he plays it uber-straight and loses any of the fun which seems to fit so well into the Pirates franchise or anything Tim Burton fancies making. The role screams out for Depp to evoke that sense of obliging grace and charm in the face of adversity that Cary Grant achieves in North by Northwest: the innocent man swept into a world he doesn’t belong in. What he does instead is simply take himself that bit too seriously.
The plot is doubtlessly preposterous. Most tenuous of all is the rather flaky idea that Depp’s character might actually be the wanted Alexander Pierce, for whom he is mistaken: The Tourist somehow manages to take the crux of Die Another Day and make it once more ridiculous than it already was as a plot device. The narrative is laden with predictability – a chase over rooftops, the escape to safety onto the canvas of a market stall – which makes the action as heavy and laboured as the unfunny dialogue.
The Tourist can be forgiven for most of these sins if it’s taken as a bit of a joke: a romantic comedy that plays on its action for fun’s sake. But I worry that that’s not actually the case. And even if it isn’t, it’s neither romantic nor funny enough to be a very good rom-com either. With Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (director of The Lives of Others, 2007’s Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars) and Academy Award-winning writers Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) and Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) as well as a stellar cast, The Tourist was an exciting prospect. Yet the film is nothing but underwhelming. It doesn’t deliver and, perhaps worst of all, makes the great Steven Berkoff completely boring.