Who doesn’t want to go see a movie starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, two of the biggest stars of Hollywood; specially when it is the first time they encounter each other on and off the screen? Did I mention they have some of the biggest female/male followings? These give ‘The Tourist‘ a recipe for success. Unfortunately, these great actors are not enough; neither are the great sceneries or the storyline that has the potential to be #1 at the box office. It was disappointing not to see many action scenes (when Jolie is one of the best female action stars out there) and to experience so much sexual tension (no one can deny these two could deliver some steamy scenes in the right movie). Basically, this movie has everything it needs, but it didn’t reach its potential to make it worth the wait at the movie theater.
I got the pleasure of experiencing the first scenes of the movie, which are set in Paris and taking a cruise down the Seine river shows the authenticity of the set, as well as the romantic feel of it. Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck told me how he wanted to bring the glory days of Hollywood back on screen, which he believes to be those of films like Casablanca not films like The Transformers. He also told me how tough it was to make such a different film from The Lives of Others, he had to remind himself not to get too dark. He definitely achieved his goal, he made an elegant, sophisticated and somewhat romantic film.
The main focus of the movie is Elise Ward (Angelina Jolie), an English woman who lives a life of loneliness and luxury. She carries a day to day routine in Paris, where she is patiently waiting to hear from her lover. Her lover Alexander Pearce disappeared after stealing millions from his former employer, a gangster named Shaw (Steven Berkoff), he is also wanted by the London police for not paying back taxes; the main investigator is Acheson (Paul Bettany) who’s made it his life’s work to catch this guy. Elise finally changes her routine when she is instructed by Alexander to get on a train to Venice and choose a stranger to be him. We see men melting at Elise’s sight, but she chooses Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) an American math teacher who is touring around Europe to forget his past love. Frank follows Elise’s game nervously, he can’t shake off her charm and doesn’t understand why she would pick him. Elise is very self assured and starts molding Frank into what she needs quickly, she is aware of her impact on others. When the train reaches Venice they each go their separate ways only for Elise to reappear minutes later to take him into the ride of his life. She introduces him to her life of luxury, he goes along without questioning much until everyone that is after Alexander Pierce begins to think Frank is him and start following him with guns. We follow Frank to his imprisonment in Italy and the rest of the labyrinth this mysterious woman built for him. We slowly start getting to know Elise, trying to figure out whether she is “good or bad” is the rest of the story.
Frank is one of the least physically attractive characters Depp has represented, but the utter innocence and niceness is Frank’s appeal. This is one of Jolie’s most girly, elegant and sophisticated roles; her sex appeal can’t be denied here since that’s Elise’s greatest tool. Elise is meant to be tough but at the same time feminine and it’s really hard to see Jolie in a role like this; she herself told me that was the biggest challenge in this film for her, to “slow down”. Bettany has shown us what a great villain he can be in movies such as The DaVinci Code, although he’s not directly a villain here; his character’s frustration makes him one of the most real characters in the film.
The best things in the movie: the scenery, locations like Paris and Venice elevate its elegance.Also, Depp’s character, he is the hilarious part of the movie; he really is one of my favorite parts of the film. That said, this movie calls for a lot of action and if they would have let Jolie loose at least a couple of scenes that would have really helped. The romance in the film is very light, yes they wanted to keep it PG-13, but it needed some sex scenes; the sexual tension takes away from the joy of the movie. There are a couple of twists in the movie which are appreciated but the grand finale is not so grand, it is predictable more than anything.