‘Tis the season for dramatic, intense, riveting, must-see Oscar-worthy films. The Tourist isn’t one of them. Sure, it’s kind of fun. And you get to tool around Venice with Johnny Depp. But the movie has a major identity problem. Is it a spy thriller? A drama? A romantic comedy? Sometimes. Sometimes. Sometimes. Is it any good? It’s okay. It’s entertaining enough to kill time, but it’s not a must see. It’s a fine date movie or a viable solution for a diverse group of folks who want to see a movie together but can’t reach consensus on a film/genre.
Angelina Jolie plays Elise Clifton-Ward, an international woman of mystery who is trying to evade authorities long enough to reunite with the love of her life, a money-stealing fugitive named Alexander Pierce. With Scotland Yard and Interpol hot on her trail, Elise hops a train to Venice, where she lures an unsuspecting American tourist into a deadly game of mistaken identity.
Johnny Depp plays Frank Tupelo, a math teacher from Wisconsin who has a similar height and build to the elusive Alexander. (Johnny Depp as a math teacher named Frank??? Sure, whatever – it’s Johnny Depp.) Needless to say, Frank becomes the unwitting target of Alexander’s enemies, and of course, falls head over heels for Elise. Rather than hop the first plane back to Wisconsin, Frank embraces the danger with a comic flair unseen since … um… Captain Jack. Depp playing the somewhat ignorant American trying to pass his broken Spanish off as Italian is pretty darn cute.
When the movie is good, it’s very good. Unfortunately, the script veers into not-so-good territory a few times too many. That makes for a very uneven cinematic experience from German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose claim to fame is The Lives of Others, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2007. Ultimately, the film’s fatal flaw is a lack of sexual chemistry between Depp and Jolie. I couldn’t help thinking that Keanu Reeves and Jane Seymour could warm up the screen just as much, if not more in those very same roles. == >
Sexual chemistry aside, Jolie and Depp do share some sharp banter, a few good action scenes, and enough of those trademark glances to remind us why they are both considered among the most “beautiful people” in the world. Having one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Venice, as a backdrop also helps keep the movie somewhat afloat. Did somebody call for a water taxi?