by Aaron Peck
The plan was foolproof, or so they thought. Get two of the biggest stars in the world, pair them in the same movie, and mix in some Hitchcockian action and intrigue. It will be like printing money. Right? So just how did 'The Tourist' go so wrong?
Sometimes film critics give the general movie-going audience a bad wrap. Sure, fans run out and ogle the latest dreadfully awful 'Transformers' movie whenever they can, but even the folks who hang on Michael Bay's every slo-mo shot thought 'The Tourist' sucked.
On the surface it seemed like the perfect idea. Johnny Depp is all kinds of famous. His portrayal of Jack Sparrow has sent him into the fame stratosphere. Based on popularity, if there's something above the A-list, that's where Depp now resides. As for Jolie, she's also become a worldwide phenomenon – and no that's not just because she's apparently trying to adopt a child from every country around the globe. She's a true movie star. She's got the looks (oh boy, has she got the looks) and the swagger to pull it off. After starring in the vastly underrated 'Salt' last year, it was easy to see that Jolie could pull off just about anything and make it look good.
So, these two major stars got together for a movie featuring international intrigue, exotic locales, espionage, mistaken identities, what seemed like a good bit of action, a more than healthy $100 million budget, and a well regarded director at the helm. What could go wrong? After all, both of these stars are quite adept at headlining their own $100 million pictures and making back oodles of money for the studios.
The problems with 'The Tourist' are obvious right from the moment Frank (Depp) and Elise (Jolie) first meet on a crowded train. Depp looks slightly pudgy and altogether bored out of his mind. Like he's just biding his time until he can start filming more 'Pirates' movies. Jolie is still sexy, but utterly disengaged, the chemistry isn't there at all. The two are seated miles apart from one another, but the apparent chasm feels even wider.
Without mincing words, the two stars act like they're merely there to collect paychecks, and that's it. There's never one bit of chemistry on display here. They might as well have filmed their scenes separately and been digitally inserted into the same shots, as there's no evidence of any sort of attraction or even interest in playing out the scenes as though playing off one another's physical actions and movements. Wax figures would have been more alluring.
As the movie progresses, it, like Jolie, tries its hardest to stay ever-so aloof. Acting like it's smarter than it actually is. Like there's wit at work behind the action. But you'd need action for that to even be a possibility. In other words, nothing happens. At all. We have to watch as the two of them half-heartedly feign some sort of reluctant interest in each other, all the while hoping and praying that at some moment the story will finally break free and that $100 million budget will show its face on screen. Sadly, it never does.
As you may have noticed, I haven't really discussed the plot here. That's because I'm pretty sure the filmmakers never discussed it either. If they did, they would have thought to themselves, 'This is literally going to bore viewers to tears, reducing them to limp, popcorn sprinkled lumps of despair and regret. Either that, or it's really gonna piss a few people off.'
When the end comes you're hoping for some sort of redemption. Something that will make everything worthwhile, a clever twist, a witty payoff, you wait, and you wait, and then you realize that this hopeless production couldn't even get that right. This is one of the worst cop-out endings of last year, if not all time. It even gives this year's 'The Adjustment Bureau' a run for its money in the category of Most Ludicrous Ending.
So, what went wrong with 'The Tourist'? Everything! Sony underestimated the American movie-going audience. They obviously believed that pairing these two mega-movie stars would easily bring in the big box office bucks they were seeking. Where that $100 million actually went is a whole other question, as the biggest action in the movie appears to involved Depp jumping on a fruit cart, and Jolie dragging a boat through a canal for a few yards. That's it! What a painful, overlong, mind-bogglingly dull bore.
Kudos to the public though! 'The Tourist' cost $100 million to make and only made back approximately $67 million domestically. Even though 'Transformers 3' will easily gross over $350 million bucks, the American public has announced that they do indeed know crap when they see it.