“The Tourist” Movie Review

     There are a lot of predisposed thoughts one might have going into a movie like Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s “The Tourist.”  If you’ve seen the trailer, you probably thought the film looks great, having been shot in Paris and Venice and starring two of Hollywood’s finest actors, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.  The one question mark, as is always the case with a film like this, is does the story line live up to the visual feast on screen?  The Tourist works on some levels, but misses the mark when it comes to the on screen chemistry of its two talented leads.  I feel the writing is at fault here.

     Jolie is the one person in the film who appears to be having a lot of fun.  Remember, this film is part crime thriller yet the plot is preposterous, so you would think the actors would ham it up a bit and play their roles with some flair.  Perhaps its the script or maybe the direction, but Depp plays Frank Tupelo, a math teacher from Wisconsin, straight up and serious, as if all of this was to be taken that way.  Jolie’s tone serves the material well and she always seems to give the film a nice spark each time it nearly falls on its face.  There is a lot to like here, but at the end of the film, I felt like The Tourist could’ve been solid if it were in the hands of more talented filmmakers.

     This is a twist and turn type of plot, so I won’t give away any of the significant plot points, but it is your standard heist film.  Jolie is Elise Clifton-Ward and she has been summoned from Paris to Venice by her true love, who also happens to be a guy that has stolen a couple billion dollars from some really nasty and overly cliched gangsters.  Because of the peril involved, she must be discreet and is told to find a man with similar height and build to pose as her husband.  On the train ride over, she meets Frank and they proceed to check into a 5 star hotel and enjoy the sites of Venice until the plot begins to unfold.  That’s when the gangsters and the Scotland Yard cops show up and complicate things.  From there you have your standard crime thriller fare with roof top chases and boat chases in Venice.

     The aforementioned gangster in the film is none other than Steven Berkoff, famous for playing the Victor Matelan character in “Beverly Hills Cop” and he channels  basically the same character here again.  I’m big on villains because they raise the stakes in a film’s story and with each scene Berkoff is in, I could only think of the Matelan character (and that was from 25 years ago!)  Even Timothy Dalton (007 between Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan) appears as the Chief Inspector from Scotland Yard hot on the trail of Elise.  Each of these roles could have been greatly improved by having the actors switch roles.  Why not have Berkoff play a good guy?

     For pure star power and entertainment value, I doubt you could go wrong watching The Tourist.  You may even be enticed to visit Europe some day as you are sure to be impressed by the locations.  You also may wish for something more, considering the talents involved in front of the camera.  For Jolie, I liked her a lot better in this past summer’s “Salt.”  Overall, this is two 2010 misses for Depp.  I thought his outlandish Mad Hatter portrayal was peculiar and The Tourist doesn’t cut it either.  Both look great in this film, but the emotional involvement is missing.