'Tourist' a dull vacation

Article Published: Dec. 15, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Tourist' a dull vacation

Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie star in 'The Tourist.'

It's not the lack of chemistry, the uneven pacing, or, perhaps, the slowest boat chase ever filmed that put "The Tourist" on my "Word that Rhymes with 'Fit' List."

It's the film's obnoxious self-assertion that Angelina Jolie is beauty epitomized, the absolute, unequivocal picture of beauty, as it were, in a dictionary, a dazzling force that can stop both men and women in mid-sentence with the slightest arch of an eyebrow, full lips that could launch a thousand ships if only the crews were paying attention.

Seriously, there's not a scene that goes by in "The Tourist" in which Jolie is not ogled by everyone on screen, regardless of sex, situation or screenplay, including numerous Italian bombshells, who easily put her to shame.

Apart from an ego trip for Jolie, there's little to be gained from "The Tourist." What it lacks in interest, it tries to compensate with sheer star power, and miserably at that, as stars Johnny Depp and Jolie share the kind of chemistry typically found near time clocks - they're ready to call it a day.

"The Tourist" is a dull, romantic comedy-adventure lacking in romance, comedy and adventure. Both Depp and Jolie seem detached from their roles, as if they couldn't really care less, and it's contagious.

Jolie ("Salt") plays Elise Ward, a British beauty who's become involved in an international game of cat and mouse. Her enigmatic boyfriend, Alexander Pierce, has stolen millions from a notorious gangster (Steven Berkoff, "Octopussy"), and the British government, through an investigation led by dogged Inspector Acheson (Paul Bettany, "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World"), is hot on their trail.

With Elise in Paris, the authorities are monitoring her every move (while also staring at her arse), hoping to catch even a glimpse of Pierce, who only communicates to her via handwritten, courier-delivered notes. The latest tells Elise to board a train bound for Venice, Italy, and attach herself to a random man with the same height and build as Pierce, who could serve as his double, thus throwing off authorities for the two to reunite and escape somewhere.

Enter Frank Tupelo (Depp, "Public Enemies"), a lonely math teacher from Wisconsin, who's journeying to Venice to mend his broken heart. Stammering and taken aback by Elise's sophisticated nature and sheer beauty, Frank develops a fondness for the mysterious woman and, sure enough, by the time they arrive in Venice, he's pegged as Pierce - but not by the British authorities, who've already discounted him as a suspect, but by the wronged gangster and his Russian goon squad.

Well-manicured madness ensues.

Depp is convincing as a fish-out-of-water tourist, almost too much so, as his character just isn't very interesting. And since Jolie spends most her time delivering cryptic lines and seductive smiles, Elise - though beautiful, as every single scene stresses - suffers from the same disinterest.

Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck ("The Lives of Others") keeps the film moving at a slow, leisurely pace, taking in its lush European scenery and enjoying every minute of it - ideal for a vacation, but not so much for adventure.

At first glance, namely the trailer, "The Tourist" seems to channel the 1963 mystery-comedy, "Charade," also set in Europe, with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn playing witty, bantering characters caught up in international intrigue.

Were "The Tourist" to follow similar suit, it could have worked. The writing, however, is flatter than yesterday's San Pellegrino, with any semblance of charisma kept to a bare minimum.

Depp and Jolie are both very capable actors, but "The Tourist" is like some cinematic experiment gone awry, the same kind of mess that resulted in the foulest colloquialism of the 21st century: Brangelina.

"The Tourist," rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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