Review: THE TOURIST (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Review: THE TOURIST (2010)


Boring is the right word to describe entirely for a supposedly ambitious movie called THE TOURIST. It does sounds impossible because on paper, THE TOURIST seems to be a shoo-in for box-office favorites -- a classy genre movie in the vein of a lighter Alfred Hitchcock romp (e.g. TO CATCH A THIEF); two of among sexiest Hollywood A-listers (Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp) working for the first time together; and a caliber of behind-the-scene talents (director Florian Heckel von Donnersmarck of 2007's Oscar-winning THE LIVES OF OTHERS, and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellows). On the plus side, the movie is also shot lavishly on location in Venice with some gorgeous costumes as well. With a blessed budget as high as $100-million tag, what could have gone wrong? And that is exactly what Florian Heckel von Donnersmarck's first Hollywood big-budget feature has done -- by making the impossibly boring movie into something possible after all.

The first act of the movie, on the other hand, does shows some promising setup. At the beginning, we follow mysterious Elise (Jolie) elegantly sipping tea and orange juice in her favorite Parisian cafe while agents from Scotland Yard, lead by the no-nonsense Acheson (Paul Bettany) monitoring her every move. Apparently her boyfriend named Alexander Pearce is a multi-millionaire scam artist has made a fortune swindling big-time criminals while owing 700 million pounds in back taxes. Then a courier delivers Elise a letter from her boyfriend instructing her to take a train to Venice, and on the way there, find a man with the same build as he has and confuse the agents to lead them believe that the particular man is him. The unlucky man turns out to be an American tourist named Frank Tupelo (Depp), a math teacher from Wisconsin who is headed to Venice all alone. In an instance, they quickly get to know each other as they flirt against each other on the train. It doesn't take long before Elise manages to convince him to stay with her at one of the city's most elegant hotels, except that Frank have to sleep on the couch. It sounds too good to be true for Frank to get himself in the hand of such a beautiful stranger like Elise he can't simply resist temptation at all. But all the would-be romantic elegance turns sour at the next morning when a group of henchmen of a ruthless criminal named Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff) wants to take his money back. An elaborate chase ensues as Frank finds himself in deep trouble.

With a killer premise that would oozing a charming personality of an espionage tale told in elegant and lighthearted fashion, THE TOURIST is bound to be a fun experience. But it's a huge surprise that Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellows' s script can't figure out what makes this like-minded genre movie really works in the first place. No doubt everything is in the order but the entire execution is so blandly put together that the movie hardly set proper footing once the setup is established. The ongoing story is terribly transparent, with awfully corny dialogues (mostly from Johnny Depp and Steven Berkoff) and lame character interactions that borderline into parody territory.

Speaking of characters, it's truly a bug-eyed surprise to learn that a caliber of A-list talents of combined star powers watching Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp acted together for the first time ever, can be terribly mundane after all. Originally a star vehicle for both Tom Cruise and Charlize Theron, Jolie and Depp's onscreen presence alone is enough to produce immediate interest among sizable audiences. No doubt they are very photogenic to watch for but that is just about it. Both of their performances are simply routine and instantly forgettable. Jolie spends too much time parading around in a collection of elegant costumes that are surprisingly less classy after all. Make no mistake, she is one of the most beautiful and sexy actresses of today's generation but over time, Jolie is somewhat losing her edge already. In this movie, she is as erotically charged as always but she looks hideously awkward in her heavy makeup that makes her skeletal figure all the more obvious. For Depp, it's actually refreshing to see him stepping out of his comfort zone (flamboyant role, that is) with a rare everyman performance we don't usually see. But Depp is surprisingly out of place here -- his scruffy look and his inevitable quirky appearance reminds me he still can't get over with his popular Captain Jack Sparrow character from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN trilogy coated in a modernized role. Worst, there is hardly a sparkle in their would-be sizzling chemistry performing together. As for the rest of the supporting actors, seasoned talents like Paul Bettany, Steven Berkoff, Timothy Dalton and Rufus Sewell are merely reduced into strict caricatures.

The action, in the meantime, are totally lifeless with a silly rooftop chase and the supposedly highlight motorboat chase provides little entertainment and lacking the certain kinetic flair to justify the entire whole. If that's not insulting enough, the long-winded ending is perhaps among the laziest finale ever staged for an espionage movie.

Perhaps the biggest blame of all is Florian Heckel von Donnersmarck's misguided direction that he doesn't know from the get-go on how to sustain a lively pace throughout the movie. Again, it's really hard to believe THE TOURIST is one hell of a train wreck that should gone back to the drawing board. This is simply one of the worst movies of the year.


Jo-Achilles said...

Guess they were trying to make sort of arty-type of movie like Inglorious Bastards...guess that doesnt work either.

peckinkub99 said...

Not to mention it's a total waste of talent... I mean Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie are both collaborating together for first time...