Angelina Jolie. Johnny Depp. Venice.
I just had a feeling that this movie would be fun. And fun it was. Oh there are plenty who will differ, and after reading some of the reviews floating around online, it seems disagree they do. And it is true, this movie will probably not win any Oscars, except for maybe cinematography.
Haven’t seen the original, but The Tourist is actually a remake of a French thriller starring Sophie Marceau and called Anthony Zimmer. But you probably knew that because it seems all movies are remakes now anyway.
It is overflowing with cliches, to the point that the plot is more predictable than a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Will Elmer Fudd finally get that pesky wabbit? Doubtful.
But anyone who is watching this movie looking for deep meaning in the dialogue, or to be surprised by the twists along the way is missing the point. As I said before, Depp, Jolie and Venice. They are what make this movie, and it is all in good fun. A bit of a homage to Hitchcock movies without their essence. A throwback to when two stars could carry a movie on their personality alone, without a solid script.
From the first lines of the movie, you understand instantly that these two are having fun with this role. The acting seems to be bad, and that is because we are watching two seasoned actors who are playing characters who are themselves acting throughout the film, thus giving off the persona of bad acting.
Me personally, I knew where the story was going as if I had a hand in writing it. But I couldn’t help but enjoy myself and feel engrossed in the plot. That is simply because, they just don’t make them like this anymore. That is, they don’t make the mystery/actor-driven movies which were perfected by Hitchcock, but were also in full force in Hollywood back in the Golden era of the 40s and the 50s. Besides, even if Elmer Fudd doesn’t succeed, I still watch him try. And that is what those pesky movie critics will never understand.
But what I like even more is the absence of chemistry, which I think is intentionally done, and thus creates its own form of chemistry. It is not forced. Whereas Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn seemed to feed off each other, flirting along as they dodge their troubles, the opposite is true with these two. Depp himself plays second fiddle to Jolie, and is in awe of her beauty. Jolie and Depp are both having fun, but neither character in the movie wants to be in the situation they are placed in. If you want a realistic movie, well, sometimes the only thing you can say when you watch a femme fatale like Jolie pick your handcuffs for you is, “So that’s how you pick a lock?”
Oh and Jolie is beautiful. Every shot of her is done in such a way as to highlight her beauty. Within ten minutes of the movie, the police who are trailing her are zooming their surveillance cameras in to her perfect behind. No matter what she does in the film or how many shots are fired at her, of course, she still is always ravenous, er, ravishing. Meanwhile, Depp is always the clumsy, bumbling American tourist. He plays it to a tee, as does she.I think he appreciated the role, finally not having to be the forever-suave Don Juan Demarco. Their performances are a homage to the Cary Grants and Audrey Hepburns, but by no means a replica of them.
And oh yes, speaking of England’s finest, when they are trailing Jolie at the beginning, it is literally two or three feet behind her in an obvious police van. She would have to be really stupid to not notice them. Cops are scattered throughout wherever she goes during the movie. This is done to let you know right away not too take this one too seriously. Still, critics feel they must dissect plot holes and why surveillance wasn’t more secretive. Come on people. Relax.
Paul Bettany (A Knight’s Tale, A Beautiful Mind), Steven Berkoff (Beverly Hills Cop, Rambo II) and Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights, License to Kill) round out the supporting cast of The Tourist, but aside from Paul Bettany, they don’t bring much to the table. Bettany, playing the Scotland Yard detective, delivers a strong performance, and adds the only true mystery to the movie – is he too in love with Jolie? Probably, because everyone else is in awe of her throughout. Either way, he adds a little feistiness to the role as the detective who is always a step behind, even when he is two steps ahead. Meanwhile, Dalton, who once played the king of the spy-flick – James Bond, does well as the chief inspector, but truth be told he is given nothing to work with. Still, his presence is more symbolic than anything, and a reminder of why we are here: to have fun.
But what I really appreciated in this movie was the direction. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who directed the academy award winning The Lives of Others, does his first Hollywood production with two of its biggest stars, and handles it quite well. The missing component – the third star, behind Jolie and Depp, is the cinematography. The shots of Venice are just visually stunning, and truly add to flavor of the film.
I guess to conclude this review, all I can say is go in with an open mind for this one. Watch it as movies were intended to be watched, to escape reality, and to have fun. But if you absolutely refuse, then perhaps you should first go back and watch such classics as the gritty thriller North by Northwest and then the playful thriller Niagara. The Tourist falls somewhere in between.
Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp are a pleasure to watch on screen, even if the film doesn't completely hold up.