The usually liquid and lusty figures of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie look feeble and worse for wear in 2010’s most befuddling high profile American release: the awkwardly timed, awkwardly acted, awkwardly written action/comedy/crime caper The Tourist from German filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who wrote and directed the enthralling Oscar winning political thriller The Lives of Others (2006).
On a train from Paris to Venice, American maths professor Frank Tupelo (Depp) is joined by Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie in mysterious sexy mode – funny that) who drags him to her hotel room. But forget the kink: this is part of a plan engineered by Elise’s lover in hiding, Alexander Pearce, pilferer of millions of dollars from high rolling British criminal Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff).
Shaw isn’t the only person chasing Pearce. Interpol, led by a flustered and sweaty Paul Bettany, who looks desperate to run back onto the courts of Wimbledon (2004) and belt out some more forehands, is after him too. While the search is on Frank falls for Elise and continues to get in the way of everybody.
Von Donnersmarck appears uncertain whether this is a farce or simply a loony action adventure with good looking stars in front of good looking backdrops.
The Tourist spectacularly bombs, with the kind of confused flamboyance of a film in which everybody arrived at the set with a different vision. The action scenes are unconvincing, the jokes only occasionally funny and the performances smug and grating. Depp manages to squeeze out some of his trademark charm but his heart isn’t in it. Worse, he speaks out the side of his mouth, seemingly – perhaps understandably – unsure whether to recite his lines or swallow them whole.
A surprise ending that tries desperately hard to impress plays an outrageous no-they-wouldn’t twist card, drawing the story into a puddle of plot resolutions and reinforcing the film as something that tries very hard to be clever and comes across looking very dumb.
The Tourist’s unrelenting thrust between screwy action (a roof top chase in a pyjama suit, ho ho) and spark-less romance takes its toll. Von Donnersmarck presents one bogus plot link to the next, with Jolie standing around looking like a discounted high price escort and Johnny Depp slowly eating his own face.
The Tourist’s Australian theatrical release date: December 26, 2010