The Tourist isn’t as bad as most have been, yet at the same time I don’t quite understand how it received the Golden Globe nominations it did while other more worthy films were left off (see: Morning Glory). That said, if you keep your expectations in check and are willing to suspend some disbelief you just might have a good time with this comedy/thriller.
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller, Comedy
Sony | PG13 – 103 min. – $34.95 | March 22, 2011
Directed by: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Writer(s): Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes (screenplay)
Cast: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Rufus Sewell
Theatrical Release Date: December 10, 2010
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Alt. Title Sequence, Outtakes, BD-Live, movieIQ
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
The mystery-thriller-comedy The Tourist is kind of a mystery in itself rather than the plot. How in the world it managed to get Golden Globe nominations in three major categories – Picture, Actor and Actress – is beyond me… and I’m somebody who didn’t find it to be a dreadful mess as others did when the film was released late last year.
In this Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (say that 5x fast) film, Angelina Jolie stars as Elise Clifton-Ward, a mysterious woman under surveillance by Scotland Yard and lead investigator Inspector Acheson (PAUL BETTANY). The reason she’s being followed is because she was once married – or perhaps still is – to a former mobster accountant named Alexander Pearce who had stolen billions of dollars and is now on the run from both the authorities and the mob.
At the beginning of the film she’s been delivered a letter from her husband giving her instructions to board a particular train and find a man who could double as his husband to lead the investigators away… or something along those lines. This brings Elise to Frank Tupelo (JOHNNY DEPP), an American alone on vacation, getting away from heartache at home.
Acheson is only briefly fooled that Tupelo is Pearce but decides to keep surveillance in the hopes he will show up. This all leads to more mistaken identity when the mobster comes to Venice and wants Pearce and the money he stole. Some hijinks and thrills follow including the corrupt Italian police official wanting the bounty on Pearce’s head which goes into a mundane boat chase sequence. Wash, rinse and repeat.
** Potential Major Spoilers Ahead **
The Tourist, to be fair, isn’t nearly as awful as I had expected or from the reviews I’ve read. I will concede that for a mystery/comedy/thriller/romance, there’s nothing fresh in any way the film brings to those genres and subgenres and in fact despite the twist at the end, it’s also fairly predictable as well. I was fooled for maybe the first half before realizing the twist. However, the reveal itself is pretty good and I guess satisfactory so if you had fun on the journey, you might be able to accept and go with it, otherwise you’ll just roll your eyes and wish you could get those 100-minutes back.
** End Spoilers **
As for the “exotic” leads, Angelina Jolie fills her part very well as she has the eyes and body to pull off the mysterious leading lady but I am confused about why Johnny Depp and his ragged hairdo was even in this thing. Yes, he’s known for playing quirky characters from his numerous parts in Tim Burton’s films and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies but I’ve seen him play more straight laced characters as well – including the underrated thriller, Nick of Time – and I think playing it that way before showing his transition from the beginning to being more ragged by the end would’ve made for a more interesting performance. With this film, it’s just another moderate and forgettable Depp performance (which makes it even more perplexing as to how he received a Golden Globe nomination).
The supporting cast doesn’t fair a whole lot better but I can’t really fault the performances: Paul Bettany’s character is obviously secondary to Jolie and Depp so he plays the typical and clichéd driven police inspector willing to do whatever it takes to get his man, no matter who gets in the way; Timothy Dalton has a smaller role playing Bettany’s no non-sense boss; and Rufus Sewell has an even smaller part as a mysterious man who pops up every so often to keep the audience off kilter (and I believe he only has a couple of lines).
In regards to the co-writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, he certainly gives us some exotic locations and showcases Venice very well taking us down the areas we’ve seen numerous times in other movies (like The Italian Job) and some of the darker and more mysterious elements as well. It’s not a particularly sharp filmmaking from the director of the fantastic drama-thriller The Lives of Others, but it looks nice and tells the story, such as it is, well enough.
Basically, The Tourist is by no means a special movie, it did apparently capture the imagination of a good portion of Golden Globe voters to even get the three nominations it did in major categories. While it didn’t deserve any of the praise that comes with the awards ceremony I thought it was a frothy if not forgettable thriller that I won’t even remember a month from now.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
Feature Commentary – Co-screenwriter/Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck provides a low-key track starting with why he went with a cold opening vs. credits, filming in the various exotic locations and the nuances of the characters and filmmaking in general.
Canal Chats (6:01; HD) – Various cast and crew members chat it up about filming on the canal in Venice and also features behind-the-scenes footage. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
A Gala Affair (7:12; HD) is another behind-the-scenes featurette chronicling filming inside a 16th century building for the gala scene in the movie.
Action in Venice (6:29; HD) – Jolie, Depp and others expand on the big canal chase sequence. I guess the most interesting bit of trivia I came away from this is that filmmakers had a tough time convincing the Italians to allow them to film the chase in the canal because of The Italian Job which officials apparently were none too pleased with. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Bringing Glamour Back (9:08; HD) talks about what makes The Tourist so special and that’s bringing back the glamour to movies. As with the others, we get more on-set interviews with the cast (Depp, Jolie, Bettany and Sewell) and crew. There’s too much back-padding for my comfort as they praise the director and others.
Tourist Destination: Travel the Canals of Venice (3:17; HD) – The cast and crew expound on filming in Venice and its greatness that translates so well onto film. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Alternate Animated Title Sequence (2:14; HD) is an interesting alternate with an art deco vibe to it, but I think it was better off with the cold opening.
Outtake Reel (1:26; HD) are some (and by “some” I mean a couple) line flubs and such with the three stars, during one of the press junkets, explaining the fun they had.
The disc also has the standard BD-Live Portal, movie IQ where you can get bits of info on the movie and its cast/crew (** Blu-ray Exclusives **), and previews for Soul Surfer, How Do You Know and Inside Job.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
The Tourist is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and comes to Blu-ray with the usual 1080p high-definition transfer. While it’s not a film that pops off the screen in comparison with other newer releases, its still maintains a good amount of detail all the way through with fine amounts of film grain adding to the matter. Skin tones also seem to be in line with what was intended.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The Blu-ray comes equipped with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio track (along with a lossless French track as well) and all in all it’s a nice aural experience. The dialogue levels are clear and easy to understand coming primarily out of the center channel as any sound effects (gunfire, boats crashing, police sirens) make use of the front speakers while the rear channels provide a light but consistent depth to the movie.
OVERALL – 3/5
The Tourist isn’t as bad as most have been, yet at the same time I don’t quite understand how it received the Golden Globe nominations it did while other more worthy films were left off (see: Morning Glory). That said, if you keep your expectations in check and are willing to suspend some disbelief you just might have a good time with this comedy/thriller. It isn’t anything great but I guess for a quiet Saturday night, it might be worth a rental.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.