‘The Tourist’ is almost unfathomably bad when you consider everything that went into it. The movie is based on a well-liked foreign film (‘Anthony Zimmer’), it stars two of the world’s biggest personalities (Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie), and it’s directed by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker behind ‘The Lives of Others‘ (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck). Plus, it has the intoxicating sexy-cool spy romance vibe going for it, which I’m such a sucker for. (I, for one, loved ‘Duplicity‘.) But man, this thing is just terrible.
If you’ve seen the trailers or television commercials, you know the basic set-up. Jolie is involved with a man who’s responsible for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars, not only from the British government but also from a scary-looking gangster surrounded by grumpy Russian thugs. In an effort to throw the authorities off of her tracks, she picks up a gullible patsy (Depp) in an effort to paint him as the man all of these people are looking for.
It’s one of those “wrong guy at the wrong time” type scenarios that Hitchcock was so fond of. The filmmakers have also stacked the film with likable character actors in minor roles (people like Paul Bettany, Rufus Sewell and Timothy Dalton). But the narrative pulse never quickens. It more like flatlines. It is just the worst – repetitive, uninteresting, and poorly shot and staged. Depp gets chased around Venice, claims ignorance or innocence, and gets chased around some more. There’s all sorts of double-crosses and twists, but none of them make much sense, and most are very easy to spot a mile away. (This is mostly because there are only a handful of characters.)
You almost can’t believe you’re watching something with such potential sizzle just flop across the screen. By the time the movie reaches its ludicrous final twist, you want to throw your hands up in the air and say, “This is really what I waited around two hours for?” It’s that bad.
I remember earlier this fall reading that the director, whose ‘Lives of Others’ really is tightly compelling suspense filmmaking at its finest, saying that he worried that ‘The Tourist’ would be “too European” in tone and feel to connect with American audiences. He shouldn’t have been worried about that. He should have been more worried about making a movie that makes any kind of sense whatsoever and might be appealing to mass audiences. Instead, ‘The Tourist’ is a dull, humorless, chemistry-free romantic romp in which the two actors not only look terrible (Johnny Depp looks puffy and unkempt, Angelina looks gaunt and old) but seem to regard each other as specimens in some bizarre intergalactic zoo. There always seems to be a sheet of plexiglass between them, possibly electrified, that they’re scared to approach. Depp in particular couldn’t be bothered to enunciate let alone emote.
There’s really nothing to like about this movie, no matter how fun and sexy and whatever it might seem. It’s a slog, plain and simple. Don’t waste your frequent flyer miles on this, tourists.