Movie Review: The Tourist

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Angelina Jolie. Johnny Depp. Venice. Va-va-voom, right? Not quite. Billed as a romantic thriller, “The Tourist” fails to ignite the thrill or the romance.

After receiving a note from her unseen lover, Alexander Pearce, Elise Clifton-Ward (Jolie) boards a train from Paris to Venice. She hasn’t seen him in two years and is planning to meet him in Venice for a rendezvous. Trouble is, Alexander is a wanted man. Formerly a personal banker to mobster billionaire Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff), he has stolen 2.3 billion euros from him and is wanted in 14 countries. The government spends 8 million in sting operation to recoup 744 million in back taxes.

On the train, Elise approaches a stranger, Frank Tupelo (Depp) and strikes up a flirtatious conversation. She needs him as decoy to distract the army of men in black, hit men and Interpol alike, in pursuit of her paramour. A brokenhearted math teacher from Wisconsin with the same height and weight as Alexander, he’s the perfect cover to be dragged into this trap.

Soon enough, Elise and Frank dodge bullets and evade chases through the Venetian canals – although not for long. Who’s going to get to them first? The gangsters or the agents? Are Scotland Yard’s Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany) and Chief Inspector Jones (Timothy Dalton) running in circles or closing in? Is the mysterious man (Rufus Sewell) leading a trail for capture? When Elise confesses that Frank is part of the plan, which plan is it? And just where is Alexander Pearce?

As Elise, impeccably-styled Jolie acts like a porcelain doll and struts like a runway model. She seems to draw glances and whispers from everyone in her path. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that she and Depp have zero chemistry together. It pains me to say that Depp, known for his versatility, is miscast here as the bewildered ‘average Joe,’ and mismatched with polished Elise. Although toward the end I could see why he was interested in this role.

The dreadful dialogues and plot-holes do not help. The bumbling actions are likely intentional, but they appear out of frame compared to those in an over-the-top movie like this year’s rambunctious “Red.” When the final twist is disclosed, there’s no masterful reveal that would induce the kind of gasp one would expect, which is another blow considering it’s written by one of the writers who penned the unusual “The Usual Suspects” (Christopher McQuarrie).

It’s not clear whether the movie intends to be a romantic thriller, action spy or caper comedy. It certainly doesn’t live up to its potentials. “The Tourist” is pretty to gaze at for its glamorous superstars and setting, but that’s pretty much it.

Copyright (c) 2010. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, lifestyle/travel writer and film columnist. She owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven ( Nathalia can be reached at

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].


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