Friday 5 August 2011

Movie Review: The Tourist (2010)

An extraordinarily muddled film that manages to spectacularly fail at everything: whether its romance, action or attempts at comedy, The Tourist hits the bulls eye of awfulness. Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp try to pretend to be strangers getting hopelessly attracted to each other in a foreign land; that they somehow manage to come across more as siblings than lovers pretty much sums up the hapless effort of director and co-writer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

In a plot that leaves all the interesting details to the imagination, all we know is that Elise (Jolie) is aching to get back in touch with her former lover, the elusive Alexander Pearce, who is very rich, in hiding and wanted for evading millions in taxes. Elise is in Paris being closely watched by the French police, who are acting on behalf of Scotland Yard, but whose plans at unobtrusive surveillance must have been put together by Inspector Clouseau.

Elise gets a message from Pearce to get on a train and choose a stranger to unwittingly play the role of the surgery-altered Pearce to throw the police of the real trail. Elise follows instructions and cleverly selects the bewildered Frank (Depp), a tourist, to be her patsy. The police don't fall for the ruse, but ruthless gangster Reginald Shaw does. It turns out that Pearce has stolen a whole lot of money from Shaw, and the ganglord wants it back.

Elise and Frank arrive in Venice, and Frank is in a heap of trouble: Shaw's henchmen are after him, and it's up to Elise to save him. As Elise tries to connect with the real Pearce, she and Frank are attracted to each other, although any reasons for this attraction to emerge are kept well hidden. Frank tries to stay alive, Shaw tries to retrieve his money, and the authorities, naturally, try to make sure that everyone pays taxes owed.

The final twist in The Tourist is predictable enough to be spotted from a mile away, but this does not make it any less ridiculous, serving as definitive confirmation of the film's abject bankruptcy in the wit, logic and wisdom departments.

The screen romance between Elise and Frank never comes close to igniting, suffocated as it is by an implausible plot layering on the foul-smelling cheese picked off the cutting room floor of other movies. The action sequences consist of an impressive array of exclusively borrowed items, and if the movie did contain elements of comedy, as apparently the film-makers intended, then these must have sunk to the bottom of the canals in Venice because they never made it to the screen.

The only thing The Tourist has going for it is hair, and lots of it. Jolie brings two things to the movie: a self-satisfied smile perpetual enough to shoot off the irritating scale, and lush hair that is coiffed just so for every shot. Depp disposes with the smile and replaces it with an expression of eternal bemusement bordering on stupidity, but he also attacks the movie with a shaggy hair look that would smack of desperation if it didn't bring back bad memories of the early 1990s when all heavy metal band members cut their long hair, but kept it straggly enough to assure their fans that they are rebels.

And then there is Venice. The film would work well as tourism propaganda for the City of Bridges if only the actors wouldn't keep getting in the way.

The Tourist is a stranger in a strange land, aimless, lost, without a map, and going nowhere useful.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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