Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp together in Venice for a caper movie? Sounds awesome! What could go wrong? Well, plenty judging from the flat result that is The Tourist which manages to make two beautiful people in a beautiful city little more than an ad for why you should visit the City of Canals.
The plot, as it is, is slight despite attempts to make it convoluted: AJ is a beautiful woman (No! YES!!!) in Paris (Non! OUI!!!) being followed by agents of Scotland Yard in a surveillance van that can zoom in on her butt while the coppers speculate whether she's wearing underwear. They're following her in hopes she'll lead them to a fugitive, Alexander Pearce, who stole over £2 billion from a gangster and owes nearly £800 million in taxes to the UK. (Socialist Utopias don't pay for themselves.) She receives a note by messenger from the guy directing her to take a train to Venice and find someone on board with a similar height and build and make the cops believe it's Greene. She meets Depp, an American widower, and inserts herself into his life. Hijinks ensue.
Part of the problem people are having with The Tourist is that it's not Lara Croft and Jack Sparrow's Venetian Action Adventure. She doesn't get naked or shoot guns and he looks puffy and dour with a scraggly beard and hair that makes him look like an unemployed poet (is there any other kind?) than the math teacher he is. While they aren't doing much exciting, the quiet moments aren't very interesting either. It's nice to see a couple of good actors expressing themselves with looks and glances, but it's all soft details in the absence of a compelling narrative.
The biggest problem is that I had a sneaking suspicion as to how it was going to end up about 10 minutes in and was correct. There's a revelation about two-thirds of the way in that was a surprise, but the ultimate punchline was anti-climatic and a single point of failure which could've derailed the entire movie if one choice had gone differently. (I'll reveal it at the bottom of this review for those who've already seen this or just want to be spoiled.)
While the scenery is gorgeous and the still-too-thin Jolie looks elegant, The Tourist is sadly a trip not particularly worth going along for the ride with.
Score: 4.5/10. Rent the Blu-ray or catch at a dollar show.
*** SPOILER ALERT!!!! ***
The big twist is that Frank ends up being Pearce. Since there are only so many ways this story can play out with these stars - Frank is either a lucky stranger or the guy she loves all along - I was looking for this ending from the beginning. However, the single point of failure is this: What if she chose another guy on the train? It's not as if there aren't many 5'10" guys of average build, so it's quite possible for Pearce's scheme to reunite with his lover to go down in flames. It's a not-small detail because all the people chasing him would only have him because he was picked at random. I'm not even sure how the movie could've played if she'd chosen another; it requires an exact sequence of events to occur.