FlixChatter Review: The Tourist

A few of people’s tweets on Twitter yesterday read that The Tourist is ‘less than the sum of its stars.’ Well, that quip definitely has merit because despite the star wattage of the two leads, the movie is never luminous enough to really dazzle.

Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp play characters with opposite personalities. Jolie is Elise, a beautiful woman who’ve been followed by the police for her dalliance with Alexander Pearce, an enigmatic figure wanted for embezzlement. Depp’s character Frank on the other hand, is as ‘ordinary’ as they come, a Community College math teacher from Wisconsin! Elise deliberately crosses his path on a train to Venice, an order from her lover to find a tourist in his likeness and make people believe that man is him.

It’s an intriguing premise all right, it promises a smart cat and mouse thriller with a web of intrigue, romance and danger. That last bit was from the plot synopsis in RottenTomatoes, which obviously judging from the dismal 20% rating, most critics don’t think the movie delivers the goods. I couldn’t help peeking at some of the reviews before I saw it Friday night. But the worse the reviews get, the more curious I became to see it. I mean, how bad could it be? Well, let me just say, it actually isn’t as bad as they make it out to be. But that’s really not saying much as I went in with pretty low expectations.

Much of the critics’ gripes is on the lack of chemistry between Jolie and Depp, but to me that’s a lesser of a problem that Jolie’s ludicrous overacting. Right from the time the movie opens with her being watched and the police tailing [as well as drool over] her, it’s as if Jolie thinks she’s in a two-hour long modeling shoots. She doesn’t ‘act’ as much as ‘poses’ the entire movie and her giant eyes and lips do much of the acting for her. Alas, I find her face so distracting from some of her scenes, i.e. the super red lipstick she wears to a canal-side dinner so overpowers her delicate features; and in others, her overly smoky eye-makeup makes her already giant eyes look disproportionately bigger. Not to mention her ultra glamorous and icy-cold persona—which doesn’t remotely resemble any real human being—makes it impossible to warm up to Elise. She is supposed to be a woman in love but the only person she appears to be in love with is herself and the reaction she gets from men that the director tirelessly keep pounding at us. Ok, she’s attractive, we get it. Let’s move on shall we?

As for Depp, though at first I thought he was miscast, he invariably fares better here. It’s refreshing to see him plays a ‘normal’ guy, well, as normal as he can get whilst still retaining that quirky sensibilities we love about him. As I said in my previous Tourist post, Depp in his goofy mode seems to get the befuddled look down pat and the minute I see Frank on the train, I immediately likes him. Frank provides such an amusing contrast to the sly and controlled Elise and his admiration of his beauty is believable. That ‘ravenous’ quip you’ve seen in the trailer comes out pretty funny in the movie.

As for the supporting cast, two of which are the main reason I saw this on opening night, they did their best with how little material they’re given to work with. Rufus Sewell looks all dashing and debonair in his practically no-speaking part, but his character is actually pretty significant to the plot. Timothy Dalton has a smidgen more screen time as the Chief Inspector Jones, and it was indeed a treat to see him up on screen and hearing him say his lines only Dalton could. But all that only left me wishing to see more of them on screen. I could see Dalton in the role of the head gangster, he’d easily add more charm as well as menace than the way Steven Berkoff plays it.

Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck seems to want to pay homage to the classic Bond flicks with a little bit of Hitchcock and other classic capers. The thing is, this movie merely hints at something great and the concept does have a lot of potential. Alas, the script never goes anywhere, as the story merely glides as leisurely as the pretty gondolas on the Venice canals, leaving us with quite lackluster action sequences with no real sense of danger to the main characters. At least Donnersmarck was able to keep the plot from being too predictable, the twist at the end is the kind that makes you ‘whoa!’ That one hit me out of left field, but with plot holes the size of Texas, the whole thing feels almost as preposterous as that infamous invisible car in Die Another Day.

I’d still recommend this one for a rental though. It’s still an entertaining fare to spend a mindless afternoon on… if anything, you won’t be disappointed by the gorgeous cinematography of Venice and Paris, those breathtaking shots can practically double as a tourism video. But as any good filmmaker should know, pretty scenery plus pretty people minus a crooked script will never amount to a good movie.

P.S. The two-and-a-half stars are for Sewell, Dalton and the city Venice 🙂

Anybody else has seen this flick? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.

32 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: The Tourist

  1. Was a bit of a shallow affair I thought, designed purely to appeal to people who just want to look at the prettiness of Depp and Jolie on screen than enjoy a genuinely gripping thriller – which this just wasn’t.

    Don’t get me started on the naff ending though. Like, whaaa?

    1. Shallow is right, Andrew. If people just want to see these two looking pretty, why not just view their interviews or magazine photo shoots? Yep, nothing gripping about this one, I never thought for a minute anything bad’s going to happen to either one of the leads. Ahah, that ending is something else isn’t it… and not necessarily in a good way.

  2. PrairieGirl

    I liked this movie, also liked Johnny Depp more than I thought I would. Jolie was so over-made up and over-posed she resembled a caricature or cartoon more than a real-life person. So many critics say there’s no chemistry between Depp and Jolie, but in the context of most of the story, I don’t think they were meant to have much chemistry. There were a lot more lol moments than I expected, which is a good thing. The critics also complained the plot twist at the end was big enough to drive a truck through, but I really had no idea until it played out. Good thing I’m just an average Jane, and not a jaded critic, so the end was the happy surprise it was meant to be for me. And by the end of the film, Rufus actually gets a line (or was it two?!) And as for Dalton as the villain? Good call.

    If you view it as a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek crime caper with a lot of great scenery and star power, and don’t try to figure out the ending, you will enjoy it, either at the theater or a rental.

    1. Hey Becky, I probably enjoy this more ’cause I saw this with you & Corinne. Jolie is definitely the weak link in this one, but at least Depp was funny. I doubt he’d ever do a movie like this again given the critical pan. It was worth seeing Rufus and Dalton up on the big screen though, but we both agree we’d enjoy it ten times more if they had been given more screen time!

      You’re right about switching off your brain about that ending, that’s about the only way it’d really work 🙂

  3. Okay…you just make me not wanting to see it 🙂
    I’ll take your word and wait for it in dvd. I do want to see Depp and Bettany, but not sure if I want to see it in big screen.

    1. The Venice/Paris scenery look marvelous on the big screen but you won’t miss much seeing this on dvd, Nov. If not for Dalton & Rufus, I’d have done the same thing.

  4. nya, not my cup of tea. I generally don’t like Angelina, and Depp is overly boring to me with his repetitive acting style, and plus it’s an action flick. The only reason to watch it is RufRuf and Italy 🙂

    1. Well if those are what you want to see, then it’s still worth seeing on the big screen, Dez. Rufus looks absolutely dashing in the various scenes he was in, albeit too brief for my (and Prairiegirl’s) liking 😦 They really should’ve cast him in Depp’s place instead and just find some guy off the street to play his role!

      Btw, have you been to Venice? If not, you’d be eager to book your next trip there after seeing this film.

      1. @Prairie
        nya, still don’t like the genre 🙂

        yep, I’ve been to Venice while I was working as a teacher since our High Students usually go to Italy on school excursions 🙂 Italian gangs usually steal our passports, rob our buses etc … so not many nice experiences, and plus everything is outrageously expensive. A coffee is like 30euro or something. But the country itself is beautiful.

        1. Wow, I wish I had gone to school in your country if your school excursion is Italy!! But yeah, when I went there a few years ago we had to be extra vigilant about our stuff, especially our passport. The place is notorious for pickpockets so my hubby insists on only carrying one major suitcase (which was more of a giant backpack for easy travel) and nothing else. I hear ya about the outrageous prices. The 2-sip cappuccino was equal to getting two venti frappuccinos here in the US, and most places don’t exactly have a to-go coffee, he..he.. It’s worth it because it’s so beautiful, I’d go back in a heartbeat if money grows on trees.

          1. yes, Serbs usually spend their summers in Greece, Turkey and go on excursions to Italy, Vienna, Budapest. But it’s not because we’re rich 🙂 but because those countries are very close to us.

              1. ah, but Serbia has better food than Greece and if you’re looking for historical aspect, Serbia has been the birth place of more than 15 Roman Emperors 🙂

                1. Ah, settled then! I’ll tell hubby we’ll make it a 2-country trip, ahah. Would you be my lovely tour guide then Dezzy?

                  Btw, I just checked the airfare from here to Belgrade… it’s over a thousand bucks, ouch!

  5. Am I going to sound like a bitch for saying this? Well, at that risk I’ll say it anyway. I think Angelina needed knocked down a few pegs anyway. She is gorgeous but she is nothing special as an actress.

    1. You won’t get any gripes from me in regards to Jolie. She’s a decent actress if she puts an effort I suppose, but she seems to forget she’s supposed to be acting in this one.

  6. I haven’t seen it, but from viewing the trailer, it seems like a flat, updated rehash of North by Northwest (which was amazing and should not be tampered with). Only we don’t have Cary Grant, we have Johnny Depp. We don’t have a beauty like Eva Marie Saint, we have Angelina Jolie.

    I should probably stop now, because this will likely get me talking about the lack of true beauty in today’s Hollywood, as opposed to the women of the ’30s-50s (Barbara Stanwyck, Margaret Lockwood, and Grace Kelly come to mind). ANYWAY. I haven’t seen it, but I probably will, just because. 🙂

    1. Well sir Luke, you nailed it there. That’s why I said the movie merely hints at something great… and I had Hitchcock movies in mind, I just don’t want to mention ’em in the same breath as this one after seeing it.

      Well, I don’t blame you for thinking about the lack of true beauty in movies today… the women in classics era aren’t just physically stunning but they seem to have the grace and charisma to go with ’em.

  7. Corinne

    Hey, I had a great time seeing this movie with Ruth, Becky and friends! It was an “OK” movie or me. I love Depp, I’ve seen him in much much better movies though. I’m not an Angelina fan, in fact this is the first movie I’ve watched of hers from beginning to end. The part she played sort of fit the way I think of her. Always posing, big giant red lips, big giant cartoon eyes blinking, walking like a model on a runway, making sure she has every guy’s attention. The ending was pretty unbelievable. I won’t give the ending away, but I had an alternate ending going through my head as I was watching that my friends thought would have been a better ending. But anywho, I still had a lot of fun!

    1. Glad you could make it, C! Yep, Depp’s been if far better movies surely but he’s still pretty fun to watch. And yeah, I’d much prefer your alternative ending… it’d have a bit more suspense and flair to the story.

  8. I haven’t seen the movie, but am i the only one here who doesn’t have a problem with Jolie? Cause it seems like most people here really don’t like her, and i think she is a good actress(Here performance in Changeling was amazing, imo. There was no hint of the seductress type character she seems to be most known for)

    1. I usually don’t have an issue with Jolie but she really was irritating in this movie, though I fault the director as well. I actually was quite fond of her when she’s just starting out, even saw GIA though it’s not my cup of tea at all. But the more famous she gets, she just gets on my nerves. I did hear she was good in Changeling and wasn’t her glamorous self. Perhaps she should seek those type of roles more often, but now I think I’ve had about enough of seeing her.

  9. ‘less than the sum of its stars.’ What a great summation. Unfortunately it is true. I agree with you on this one. I was hopeful for more. It ended up just plateauing and not really going anywhere we haven’t been before. Funny that both you and I referenced James Bond movies in our reviews! 😉

  10. Pingback: gmanReviews » Blog Archive » General Consensus: Gulliver’s Travels, The Tourist, Tangled

  11. Pingback: A Birthday Tribute – 44 Reasons We Love Rufus Sewell |

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