Too Much Jolie, Not Enough Jolly
The name Hitchcock springs to mind when thinking about "The Tourist" as it would have been right up his street, a playful action, thriller which would have been perfect for Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. But Hitchcock, Grant and Kelly are all gone and instead we have director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp and a movie which other than looking beautiful is surprisingly dull. The trouble with "The Tourist" can be summed up by a lack of excitement, the action is lacking in excitement, the chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp is lacking excitement and the humour never sparks things into life, it is basically dull, good looking but dull.
Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie - Salt) is a woman under surveillance; a lot of surveillance as Scotland Yard is after her lover Alexander. It is why when Elise receives a note from Alexander asking her to catch a train and try and dupe the tails by picking a tourist to act as a decoy that she sits opposite Frank (Johnny Depp - Alice in Wonderland), an American maths teacher. But with both Scotland Yard and angry mobsters after Alexander and Elise things get messy.
Let me say the actual story to "The Tourist" is good; there may be some huge contrivances in this tale of duplicity but the actual writing works. But what doesn't work is how it comes across on screen because it ends up incredibly dull. Here we have a movie which should be exciting and playful, toying with us as we try to work out what is what such as why Elise picked Frank and every time we get a revelation it should be like a bubble bursting, a moment which not only gets us wondering why we didn't realise but also making us laugh. But none of that comes across and so it becomes a laborious trudge as it constantly fails to burst into to life.
In a way the trouble with "The Tourist" starts with the casting because there is absolutely no chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp and that element of sizzle which excites us never materialises. It doesn't help that to start with Angelina Jolie spends most of the movie modelling various beautiful outfits and director von Donnersmarck focuses on how beautiful she looks rather than on the story and character. And at the other end you have Johnny Depp playing a very ordinary bloke, puffy faced with absolutely no character, the character may be right but not for Johnny Depp and you are waiting for Depp to burst into life but never does.
Bursting is what "The Tourist" also lacks; the bursts of humour never really work, lacking the daftness to generate laughs whilst the bursts of action are all so ordinary. For whatever reason "The Tourist" ends up a movie about the look rather than the actual story and so whilst Jolie may look beautiful and Venice is a nice backdrop the substance never works. And if you don't believe me there is a dance scene in "The Tourist" at a ball and this scene should have been sexy, erotic, sharp and also a little amusing but everything which is wrong with the movie shows itself in that scene as it never bursts into life, sizzles or makes us smile, it happens, moves on and that was that.
What this all boils down to is that "The Tourist" is disappointing because it could have been a decent movie, an exciting romantic, comedy, thriller full of energy and laughs. But what we end up with is a movie which despite good writing lacks excitement and is surprisingly dull.