The poster for The Tourist pretty much tells any punter everything they need to know. It consists of Angelina Jolie’s face juxtaposed with Johnny Depp’s face, and nothing else of note. Can you create an engaging film solely on the strength of two major A-list names? In a word: no. Unfortunately the studios seem to be a bit slow about acknowledging this – either that or they’re deliberately playing dumb in order to exploit Ange and Depp fans worldwide which as anyone with even a modicum of healthy cynicism about them has to admit is not that fantastical a conspiracy.
The premise of The Tourist, if you can call it that, is that Angelina Jolie’s Elise, a sensuous volcano of a woman ever-ready to erupt, is the key to tracking down one of the world’s most wanted men: Alexander Pearce. In order to throw the secret service off the scent of her fugitive ex-lover she seduces Johnny Depp’s Frank, a maths teacher with an inexplicable talent for jumping across rooftops, making the authorities believe he is their target. Hilarity then fails to ensue.
Well actually, in fairness, hilarity ensues a little bit as both Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp have a solid grasp of comic timing and their on screen chemistry is not without its charm. Still they are lost in a plot with about the same level of depth as the inflatable paddling pool I had as a small child and are lumbered with a director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who has no idea about how to pace his project. It is without doubt one of the slowest-moving miss-marketed action romps I have seen in recent years and a big part of me wonders whether or not the director did a bit of a Pitt and fell in love with Jolie during the shoot. Every on-screen male takes an undoubted shine to her and the vast majority of footage plays like an advert for Jolie herself. Particularly her engorged lips and curvaceous hips. Don’t get me wrong she’s an attractive woman but I don’t really need an extended close up shot following her rear end down the street. But hey, that’s just me.
It’s not that The Tourist is the worst film ever made or anything (that would be Nothing But Trouble, 1991) on the surface it actually has a lot going for it: the backdrop of Venice is both beautifully shot and intoxicating unto itself, there are some genuinely subtle and funny moments in the script and Jolie and Depp manage to get enough of a rapport going to almost make you forget, in places, how slowly the plot is moving forward. The ultimate problem with this film is that it is utterly forgettable. You might go and see it one idle Tuesday because “there was nothing else on” and you will pass the couple of hours easy enough, as long as you take some snacks in with you to get you through the moments in which the third act “twist” is foreshadowed for the umpteenth time, but you won’t come out of the experience desperately wondering when it will be coming out on DVD; in case you were under any illusions, seeing this film won’t change your life.
Although it is undoubtedly an inferior film The Tourist is very comparable to Mr and Mrs Smith. The first viewing is completely tolerable but any further screenings would be pushing it. To sum up you’re probably only going to really enjoy this film if you’re a massive fan of Angelina or a massive fan of Depp as per the studio’s agenda. I don’t have anything against either but suffice to say I don’t have an “Ange and Brad 4 eva” or a “I heart Johnny” tattoo. Consequently I am willing to award The Tourist five stars and let’s say no more about it. No, really let’s not.
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Cast: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany
Runtime: 103 min
Country: USA, France