Friday, August 19, 2011

The Tourist

In Paris, Interpol agents intensely monitor a beautiful and mysterious woman romantically linked to a banker who stole hundreds of millions of pounds from gangster and owes a lump sum in back taxes to the British government. She receives a letter from a courier telling her to get on the train to Venice and throw off her pursuers by choosing a random man of similar build and present him as the thief. On the train she picks an American tourist, a recently widowed math teacher from Wisconsin. As the two develop feelings for each other, while warding off the imminent danger from the agent and the gangster's henchman, the couple reveal that there is more to both of them than there may have at first seemed. "The Tourist" is the second film from German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, following the Oscar winning foreign film "The Lives of Other". That was a surefooted film that was executed wonderfully. Here we have a movie that doesn't know what it wants to be. Written by von Donnersmarck and two fellow Oscar winners, Julian Fellowes and Christopher McQuarrie, the film strives to achieve something in the Hitchcock "To Catch a Thief" vein, and fails at attempting to be several different films, i.e. spy thriller, romantic comedy, romantic drama, spy comedy, etc. The romance is never believable, the comedy is not quite funny, the spy story is not very urgent, and Johnny Depp is his usual boring self (which is what he's supposed to be but still). Angelina Jolie is luminous and the Venice locations are breathtaking, but how hard is it to make the two appear beautiful on film. "The Tourist" isn't a bad film per say, just a forgettable one that does too little in an effort to do too much and then relies on its stars and locations to bail it out.