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Overall Rating
2.52

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Just Average42.42%
Pretty Crappy: 39.39%
Sucks: 9.09%

3 reviews, 15 user ratings


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Tourist, The
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by Jay Seaver

"First leg of the trip is nifty, but the ride home's got problems."
3 stars

Looking at the cast and crew of "The Tourist", its eventual ranking as a so-so caper flick is a bit of a surprise, not just because there's plenty of fine talent involved, but because for a good chunk of its runtime, it's surprisingly good: That talent had been doing different sorts of work or underwhelming recently. Things peter out, though, and the filmmakers don't figure out the right note to end on.

As we open, the French police are doing their regular surveillance on Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie), an elegant Englishwoman in Paris. Cushy duty, as she's quite easy on the eyes and varies her routine not a whit. Today, though, she receives a note from the watcher's real target, her on-the-lam mob accountant boyfriend, said to have a new face. She's to take the train to Venice, find someone who matches his height and build, and make her pursuers think it's him. She chooses Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp), a friendly but doofy American tourist. Scotland Yard Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany) discovers the deception, but one of his subordinates leaks the information to Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff), who sets his sights on Frank and Elise and doesn't notice the other guy with a similar height and build (Rufus Sewell) who is hanging around.

Frorian Henckel von Donnersmarck directs and also wrote the script (also credited to Chrisopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes, and adapted from Jerome Salle's film Anthony Zimmer), and while that mouthful of a name may not immediately leap to mind, it should - he directed The Lives of Others, which won the Oscar for foreign language film and absolutely deserved it. As things start, he's playing with surveillance again, and that part of the movie is as snappy as expected. Then Frank shows up, and the movie takes on a more comic tone. Von Donnersmarck doesn't exactly slip here, but things necessarily become a little more disjointed than they were; even brief stops to drop a surprise, let a punchline breathe, or allow the audience recover after an action beat make things a little less smooth than the slick chess game that opens the movie.

Von Donnersmarck does handle the action/adventure elements pretty nicely, though. There are two very nifty chase scenes, and whether they take place on the rooftops or in the canals, they do a nice job of playing up both how this sort of thing is not only hard for a regular guy like Frank, but actually makes him look more than a little bit like a fool, and how even for the likes of Elise and Shaw's Russian goons, it takes a lot more effort than you might expect. And while bits of the before and after may not make a whole lot of sense, the moment when all the important characters are in the same room is a witty bit of back and forth.

The trouble is not so much with the script - although a movie so focused on deception really needs to be tighter(*) - as in the leads. The chemistry between them doesn't quite grab the audience like it ideally should. There are story reasons for not pushing that sort of spark as hard as possible, but without it, the bits between set-pieces are lacking a certain snap. Individually, they are both pretty good: Angelina Jolie once again shows just how great she is at adding humanity and personality to action heroines and femmes fatales in little moments, without grinding them to a halt, and Depp is low-key funny as a dorky American in Europe whose bumbling is always more cute than annoying.

The supporting cast, fortunately, gets to have more fun. Paul Bettany's Acheson is a sort of thankless role, the cop destined to eternally be one step behind, but it's more fun than usual - rather than a screw-up, he's smart and capable but also a jerk, and Bettany and the character own this to good effect. Fortunately, he brings a secret weapon along with him in the person of Timothy Dalton, playing Acheson's boss and making every scene he's in better, as he is wont to do. For spoiler reasons, I can't say much about Rufus Sewell, but Steven Berkoff is exactly the sort of bad guy that this movie needs - his Shaw thoroughly enjoys being the villain, he plays bigger than the rest of the cast, but doesn't quite threaten to wrest the movie away from its stars.

For as much as some of the main elements in this film come up wanting, it executes key details quite well. It's too bad that the chases don't have some more interesting participants.

(*) Of course, discussing how the script could use tightening wouldn't be right. Suffice it to say that there's some pretty basic flaws in the master plan that aren't obvious until the finale. Not so bad while you're watching it, and maybe not necessarily on the way out of the theater, but on the ride or walk home, it starts to fall apart a bit. "Fortunately", it's the sort of movie that doesn't leave that much of an impression.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=21429&reviewer=371
originally posted: 12/16/10 22:55:40
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User Comments

4/07/16 David Hollingsworth Angelina's great, but the movie as a whole is boring fluff. 2 stars
7/26/12 Chris. That many talented actors and all you can make is this pathetic shit?? 1 stars
9/08/11 Nancy Another great job by Johnny Depp. Awesome boat scenes... 4 stars
4/16/11 mr.mike I shut it off at the 50 minute mark. 1 stars
3/22/11 Monday Morning Ricky Gervais was right. 2 stars
2/17/11 Narda Boring, overacted, odd drama. Jolie and Depp need a fix 2 stars
1/22/11 Beverley M Sporck Enjoyed all the scenery both human and landscapes, but felt some letdown. 3 stars
1/01/11 M Without Angelina this would of went stright to DVD 2 stars
12/30/10 al rudolf stop comparing with other classics, this film is highly entertaining 4 stars
12/27/10 Koitus Eh... Worth it, for the location (Venice!), and of course, Angelina! ;-) 3 stars
12/27/10 Man out 6 Bucks Angelina hangs out with slob Silent Bob. She's great but plot came off a cereal box. 2 stars
12/26/10 kaz meh. 2 stars
12/19/10 David A. Subtle, intelligent suspense drama that makes full use of Angelina Jolie's looks--hot! 4 stars
12/17/10 zenny sad attempt at hepburn-grant - seen wittier dialogue on a bathroom wall 2 stars
12/11/10 PAUL SHORTT MUDDLED MYSTERY DRAMA 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  10-Dec-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 22-Mar-2011

UK
  10-Dec-2010 (12A)

Australia
  26-Dec-2010 (M)
  DVD: 22-Mar-2011




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