Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Tourist

The Tourist
Grade: D
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
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I suppose it’s at least a small accomplishment that The Tourist ends in the exact place that it’s been going all along – with its two mega-stars, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, in white tux and evening gown, dashing and bejeweled on a sailboat in Venice.

For two hours, The Tourist ignores all logic, reason, and possibly pleas of relief from multiple Nobel Peace Prize winners to relentlessly pursue this moment. Two stars. Looking for a port of call strong enough to hold their wattage. Deigning to allow us to peek in on their fabulous adventure.

The Tourist has in mind the big-star heist films of the sixties like Charade that made it on charisma and splash, with characters who seem to live on champagne. (A latter-day example would be the George Clooney-Jennifer Lopez pairing in Out of Sight.) Depp plays a college math teacher mistaken for a jet-set white-collar criminal. Jolie plays the hyper-elegant woman of mystery who seems like she was born in a luxury hotel, prancing about Paris and Venice deciding if they deserve her.

Except that The Tourist wants to be a quirky satire of those films, as well. That’s the shake. There are giant tone shifts between suspense and comedy that suggest the film’s three writers each had a different movie in mind. If the overt attempts at humor aren’t good for a guffaw, there’s always the accidentally silly action sequences, such as Depp jumping roof to roof in jammies.

The Tourist is somehow the follow-up for director Florian von Donnensmarck, he of The Lives of Others. Such a subject shift makes for career whiplash. Only one scene, a night on the town, delivers the glamour he seeks. The rest of the film is a waste.

Oh, well. At least everyone enjoyed a nice trip to Venice.

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