The Tourist: Beautiful People, Glamorous Lives, No Chemistry
Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie will always have Venice, but not much else
"The Tourist" (Sony)
A cosmopolitan, romantic espionage thriller that channels "North by Northwest" by way of "Charade," with Johnny Depp in the Cary Grant role and Angelina Jolie as the cool, elegant and effortlessly glamorous femme fatale and an Oscar-winning director getting his first taste of a Hollywood budget. It all seemed like the elements of a perfect big-screen confection. An American everyman (Depp) is picked out of a crowd by the most beautiful woman on screen, followed by police and foreign agents (led by a ruthlessly obsessive Paul Bettany), targeted by international gangsters (under the command of vaguely Russian baddie Steven Berkoff) and batted around by opportunistic Italian cops. And yet somehow this lavish light thriller stumbles through the set pieces and bobbles the star chemistry.
Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck ("The Lives of Others"), who adapted the screenplay (from the French film "Anthony Zimmer") with Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes (or maybe he just did the last rewrites in a long-gestating development process), makes Venice look like the most gorgeous city on Earth and shoots Jolie with the same admiring, idealizing perspective, but has no facility for light comedy, romantic sizzle or breathtaking action. And the script, while cagey in its contrivances, is neither as clever nor intelligent as the filmmakers believe it to be. For all of its Hitchcockian "wrong man" echoes and play with identity and morality, there is ultimately no real risk, no sacrifice, no weight to any of it.
More on the DVD and Blu-ray, plus a clip of the first meeting between Jolie and Depp, after the jump.
Jolie is commanding as a presence but hasn't much to do as a character and Depp does his sweetly befuddled everyman as the tourist of the title swept into a web of international thieves and foreign agents and constantly rescued by the enigmatic beauty whose seemingly chance attentions has targeted him as a player. Contrivances and silliness aside, this is either a portrait of the worst spy surveillance and intelligence network in the world, or the filmmaking is so sloppy that it simply isn't concerned with making it look good. "The Tourist" has two things going for it: the beauty of Venice (I don't think I've ever seen more stunning aerial views of the this city in film) and the star power of Jolie. The rest is just gaudy confection: at times entertaining but never quite satisfying.
More from MSN critic Glenn Kenny: "Depp and Jolie have no chemistry, and von Donnersmarck, who seems a bit on the humor-challenged side, has them conduct their dialogue exchanges as if they're both in some weird trance."
German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has barely a trace of accent in his commentary, which he helms solo and discusses (at least in general terms) the directorial choices and a few production stories. It's informative enough and pleasantly low-key, if never quite energized. Though it is a bit funny as he, completely deadpan, is bleeped four times in the first ten minutes explaining how he changed the language for a PG-13 rating. There's no real traditional "making of" featurette here, just a couple of short, promotional-style pieces, each under ten minutes, some much shorter. The DVD features "A Gala Affair" (on the climactic set piece in the ballroom) and "Bringing Glamour Back" (on the surface style of the film). Exclusive to the Blu-ray are three more pieces: "Action in Venice" (on the speedboat canal chase sequence), "Canal Chats" and "Tourist Destination: Travel the Canals of Venice" (both basically travelogues accompanied by gushing appreciations from the cast and crew).
Both DVD and Blu-ray feature an alternate animated end title sequence, a sleek, graphically elegant trip around the world with our heroes (the existing credits are simply titles over black) and a 76-second "Outtake Reel," which is basically a featherweight promotional piece with cast banter, clips, and a few seconds of actual outtakes.