Screen Rant's Vic Holtreman reviews The Tourist
Usually, it's a Sci-Fi or superhero film that comes along from time to time which relies primarily on its "look" above everything else - one doesn't usually expect a drama, romance or semi-action/adventure story to rely on its visual aspect to carry it. The Tourist does just that, whether that was director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's intention or not.
Of course there are worse things than a film which stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp relying on its appearance.
We begin in the beautiful city of Paris, with the most beautiful Angelina Jolie (it's the eyes I tell ya). She is so aristocratic here that she fairly glides across the screen - and she is under heavy surveillance by the Parisian police. Under the oversight of Scotland Yard (with Paul Bettany in charge of the case), they are hoping she will lead them to her lover, who is involved in some sort of major, epic financial crime.
As the film begins, it seems like we might be in for a decent ride - a game of cat and mouse between her, the unseen lover and the police. She receives a note at a cafe with instructions on what to do and where to go in order to evade those who are following her - and it doesn't take long for the advice to prove accurate. The plan as dictated to her, is to find someone of similar build to him in order to have the authorities believe it IS him. They don't know what he looks like because he's stolen over $2 billion and the assumption is that he's had extensive reconstructive surgery in order to hide from the police - and the British mob boss from whom he stole the money.
Of course she decides to select Johnny Depp as her "victim" - he plays a Wisconsin math teacher, and he does it quite well. Following a string of so many... stylized roles, it was actually impressive to watch Depp play a "regular joe." He is somewhat shy and taken aback by Jolie's beauty. Just as we think she is done with him, she decides to string him along further - or is she somehow intrigued by this simple little man?
As a matter of course he ends up in harm's way - being chased by both the Italian police (they're now in Venice), the mob gangster's thugs and Scotland Yard. Believe me when I tell you that in this film, it is NOT as exciting as it sounds.
The Tourist just kind of plods along from one locale/scene to the next, seeming almost random. There are unexciting chase scenes and a bit of romance between Jolie and Depp that feels very one-way... it's clear why Depp's character would fall for Jolie's, but why she would be interested in a guy like him never rings true.
If you're going to see this film, you really, really need to be a fan of both of these actors because it's very much focused on them. Jolie, as stated previously, is quite gorgeous in the film - but it seems like you're not allowed to figure that out for yourself, as there are multiple scenes of her walking down the street, entering rooms, arriving at a ball, etc. where the men part like the Red Sea, and they turn in unison to gaze at her. As if to "help" us to understand that she is utterly and completely captivating in case we poor movie viewers don't get that already.
One thing I did like about the film is that it felt like it was trying for that late 1950s, early 1960s romance/thriller vibe. It had the look of those and it even felt like a throwback to those by being what I would consider a mild PG-13 (well, other than one pretty brutal strangling). There were also some great actors on hand like Steven Berkoff, (an underutilized) Rufus Sewell and Paul Bettany. I know some people are interested in seeing this as much for Bettany as the two stars - but what I found amusing was that the few scenes Timothy Dalton appeared in as Bettany's boss were totally stolen by Dalton despite very little dialog or time on screen.
One thing that I believe could have helped this film "pop" would be a better musical score. It was very conventional and generic and didn't add much needed soul nor energy to the film. Speaking of the score (and films with those that excel), what The Tourist reminded me of was a much watered-down version of The Thomas Crowne Affair, with the genders reversed.
I don't think it was as awful as many are making it out to be - it was certainly pretty to look at, but in the end, utterly forgettable.
Here's a trailer for The Tourist: