The Tourist (2010)

(In theaters, December 2010) In retrospect, The Tourist doesn’t look like the kind of film that’s difficult to mess up: Take two hugely popular stars, a picturesque location, and a premise that allows for both a bit of comedy and some action.  Easy!  Yet much of The Tourist plays as an introduction for a movie that never ends up on-screen… and the conclusion seems deliberately engineered to vex anyone still looking for some coherence.  Part of the issue is that the film occasionally presents itself as a thriller when it’s not much more than a romantic comedy and its attempts to play up the thrills are misplaced through a depiction of incompetent police operations, tepid action sequences and half-hearted justifications for the cops and criminals acting as plot drivers.  As a romantic comedy, The Tourist can at least depend on the presence of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, even though only Jolie seems perfectly adapted to her role as an elegant woman with secrets: Depp, on the other hand, seems uncomfortable playing a supposedly normal man thrust in the middle of so many shenanigans.  His specialty as an actor is the oddball character, not the kind of bland romantic lead that The Tourist wants him to play.  What doesn’t help is the unremarkable dialogue: despite the star power of the two leads with Venice in the background, the entire film is barely worth a shrug.  Perhaps worse than the result is the almost-there quality of the film it should have been.  Fans of Depp and/or Jolie may find enough of their favourite to be happy with the results, but anyone wanting something more than celebrity tourism may want to look elsewhere first.

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