THE TOURIST is that dirty of dirtiest of Hollywood words, a "troubled" film. This is Hollywood code for a project that has become toxic; stuck in pre-production; riddled with "creative differences"; lead actors dropping out; directors hired, fired, and hired again; and writing credits expanded by the desperate attempts of over-paid script-doctors to hammer some shape and vision back into the bulbous mess. When the revolving doors at GK Films finally stopped turning, many a talented film-maker was trapped between the glass. But to no avail. The resulting film is absolutely without merit (which has bizarrely not precluded it from winning three Golden Globe nominations, once again proving how utterly without merit are Hollywood awards).
A gaunt but Prada-impeccable Angelina Jolie stars as mysterious British woman who seduces a provincial dolt (Johnny Depp) in order to throw Interpol off the scent of her real on-the-lam boyfriend, Alexander. They meet-cute on a high-speed train from Paris to Venice and then spend a few days running round Venice being harassed by aforementioned policemen, not to mention the Russian-wannabe goon that Alexander stole money from. And all the while, what we're really meant to care about is whether Angie really loves Johnny or Alex or what.
What this movie basically wants to be is a classic, beautifully-dressed, elegantly-romantic, quivering-under-the-surface sexy classic romantic-thriller along the lines of CHARADE or TO CATCH A THIEF.
Problems: 1) Angelina Jolie phones it in as Eloise, doing little more than look arrogantly beautiful and over-dressed. 2) Johnny Depp cannot look like a provincial schlub if he tries. He also can't do physical slapstick comedy, and yes, I AM including Pirates of the Caribbean in that. 3) The police come off as complete idiots. That means there is NO dramatic tension. It's also a waste of Paul Bettany's acting talent. 4) The vengeful mafiosi that Alexander stole from is also completely OTT. Well, I know that's the point of casting Steven Berkoff. But please, this is just hokum. 5) I got the plot twist about an hour before the end of the flick. 6) It's really irritating how the Danieli keeps turning into the Gritti Palace 7) It's quite astonishing how DP John Searle has managed to photograph Venice to look ugly. 8) It's even more annoying that the director and screenwriters don't know what sort of tone they are going for - tense thriller with real threat and violence or physical comedy or whimsical romance? Is this CHARADE or is it RUN LOLA RUN? Or is it just a colossal waste of time?
Let's hope poor Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's reputation survives directing this fiasco, although god only knows why he went from art-house hit THE LIVES OF OTHERS to this confection. I guess Jolie and Depp's careers are fire-proof. Do yourself a favour and watch the Sophie Marceau-Yvan Attal French original, ANTHONY ZIMMER, instead.
THE TOURIST is on release in the UK, US, Egypt, Kuwait, the UAW, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Turkey. It opens this weekend in Belgium, France, Germany and Italy. It opens the following week in New Zealand, Australia, Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia, Serbia and Singapore. It opens on January 6th in Russia, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia, Estonia and Iceland. It opens on January 13th in Poland, the Netherlands and Slovakia. It opens on January 21st in Brazil and Finland. It opens on January 27th in Greece and Venezuela and then in Japan on March 11th.