It must have sounded like a sure winner when first conceived- - a revival of those romantic thrillers from the ‘50’s featuring handsome leading men (Grant, Peck, Stewart) and gorgeous women (Kelly, Loren, Hepburn) placed in glamorous settings (Paris, Rome, London) accompanied by clever dialogue (North by Northwest, Arabesque, Bell, Book & Candle). The result? Just watch the chemistry ring up hefty box-office sales. That must have been the intention of those responsible for hiring the Oscar-winning German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark (The Secret Lives of Others) to oversee the production of this lavish tour of Venice starring Angelina Jolie & Johnny Depp. Armed with the aforementioned assets as well as an impressive supporting cast of familiar British faces (Rufus Sewell, Timothy Dalton, Paul Bettany) audiences should expect to be enchanted, delighted and entertained, right?
Oh if only it were true…unfortunately, the only amazing thing about this limp exercise is that it manages to be so bad on so many levels: (1) Zero chemistry between the leads (2) a screenplay chock full of leaden dialogue (3) a double-McGuffin plot twist so idiotic it beggars description and (4) a storyline which moves so slowly you couldn’t be blamed for thinking the whole thing’s a deliberate exercise in putting the audience to sleep.
Jolie is stunning and she wears her designer wardrobe with great flair, but the director has her employ facial expressions of such languor that the actress appears botoxed from the neck up. Depp, who can excel at creating offbeat characters, can’t breathe any live into a character this story presents as the most excitingly romantic felon of the century. His hair’s unwashed, his beard untrimmed, his clothes rumpled, his body bloated and his expression catatonic…even when being chased over the tile roof-tops of Venice. Depp looks so bad in a white dinner jacket one wonders if he’s accepted bad career advice here or has decided to see just how large a joke he can play on his adoring fans.
The “von” in Donnersmark’s name suggests someone with a Germanic pedigree, but if this film is any indication, the man’s sense of humor and visual style are painfully plebian. The Tourist fails to wring any excitement out of an over-supply of stake-outs, shoot outs, slug-fests on speedboats and exploding safes; rigor mortis sets in shortly after the opening credits and things go down-hill from there.
The Verdict? This one’s strictly for insomniacs craving a good, long nap.
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