Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Tourist: Lost in Venice

I've got an idea for a film. It's about a fella who gets picked up by a hot chick on a train. She is being followed by international police types and is trying to make them believe that this ordinary chap is a master criminal she used to go out with who has had facial reconstructive surgery to disguise himself.

What's that? Sounds like utter toss? Well, what if Angelina Jolie is the woman and Johnny Depp is the bloke? Now you're interested! Now the scene is set for an incandescent screen-pairing of such incomparable beauty and naked sexual charisma that the very screen the film is projected on threatens to burst into flame! Right?

"The Tourist" is, unfortunately, a disappointment on all counts. It's an unfunny comedy, a plodding thriller, a romance with no spark, and a leaden farce.

Directed by Florien Heinckel von Sink the Bismarck or whatever his name is (you know, he did "The Lives of Others") with all the zest of a holiday video about an attractive but slightly dull couple, the whole thing feels like an excuse for the cast and crew to hang around in Venice for a few weeks.

Depp is unusually soulless and flat in what could've been a capering charmer of a role, and Jolie delivers a fine English accent, but little else. They are not helped by the fact that their characters are never allowed to develop beyond ciphers, simply place-holders for upcoming plot twists to be wrapped around. More on that later.

Paul Bettany pops up in a role that mainly requires him to talk on phones and hang around in offices, Steven Berkoff does a pseudo-sinister turn as a gangster who comes across more like a slightly predatory old showbiz-queen, Man-God Timothy Dalton does a two-scener, and Rufus Sewell is in it a little bit too.

The tone of the film is continually unbalanced: a scene where Depp flees some baddies over the rooftops of Venice in his pajamas comes off like a "Bourne" spoof minus any wit or panache, while the soundtrack - all punchy electro-percussion and stabbing strings - is trying to tell us we are witnessing something genuinely thrilling. The scene ends up being a turgid lope, also featuring some terrible CG matte-work, rather than a sprightly romp, reflecting the effect of the film as a whole.

So it trundles along without anything of much interest occurring, and then they start busting out the twists. When a character you thought you knew reveals a new and hitherto unseen dimension, it can be a thrilling and shocking moment. When a character who is basically a stranger to the audience does it, expect a resounding chorus of "Huh? Oh. So what?" And, without giving too much away, you can see the ridiculous final twist coming all the way from the trailer.

But we can still console ourselves with the pretty images on screen, right? Well, Venice looks pleasant enough, but Depp does an alarmingly good job of looking like a middle-aged sadsack and Jolie is so skinny that her angular head seems too big for her body and her exaggerated features appear even more cartoonish than usual. So not really much in it for the superficial crowd either.

All in all, not even as good as "Knight and Day".


  1. Shit, my fiancee really wants to see this. Oh, I guess I'll just suffer throu-HOLY SHIT, did you say Timothy Dalton?! Buying my tickets online now.

  2. :( Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, Rufus Sewell and Timothy Dalton in Venice. And they somehow managed to make it BAD?! I am so sad now.

  3. though a mess - it is apparently one of 5 'best' films of 2010 according to the Golden Globes folks. Mental.

  4. Green: Dalton is only in two scenes!

    Sugar: It's a strange case of all the right ingredients adding up to a shit-sandwich.

    Simon: I saw that! Absolute lunacy. This and Alice in Wonderland are better comedies than Four Lions? Get out.

    Cheers for comments!

  5. I myself actually did enjoy watching Jolie and Depp roam around the beautiful sights of Venice.