THE TOURIST was co-written and directed by a man named Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, and now that I’ve written that name once, I’m already running low on my daily allotment of consonants. It has script contributions from both Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes, though you’d never notice the signposts of either writer. Try to imagine a movie that falls between THE USUAL SUSPECTS/ THE WAY OF THE GUN and GOSFORD PARK/ DOWNTON ABBEY. The supporting cast includes Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Rufus Sewell, and Steven Berkoff (Victor Maitland from BEVERLY HILLS COP!), so that could go either way. It was based on a 2005 French movie called ANTHONY ZIMMER, starring Sophie Marceau. There’s only one way to take a step up from Sophie Marceau.
They say that movie stars don’t matter anymore. They say that SFX and superheroes have taken over, and people don’t go to watch people the way they used to. If nothing else, THE TOURIST worked as a repudiation of that theory. The movie made back double its huge budget and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Comedy, despite not being even a little bit funny absolutely at all. (The foreign press does love to tipple.)
People went to see THE TOURIST for Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. There’s no other reason I can imagine. There are some illustrious names in the credits — John Seale shot the movie and James Newton Howard did the score — but between the look and the sound of it, this movie could have just as easily happened in the 1990s. It’s a Euro-KNIGHT & DAY, but in 2010 people were more interested in Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie than they were in Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise. That’s just how it shook out. They wanted to watch two of the world’s biggest and best-looking movie stars take a vacation.
I know people who simply hated this movie, but I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t into it, but I get it. I mean, if you’re a super-beautiful movie star and you have the time, why not go to Venice?
The set-up of this movie is akin to a classic Hitchcockian wrong-man thriller, but if that’s the case it’s a lot more THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH ’56 than NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Johnny Depp plays a supposedly-mild-mannered schoolteacher named Frank Tupelo (to be fair, that’s a great name) who is on a train to Venice when he is swept up in the gravity of a glamorous undercover agent in the form of Angelina Jolie. Hijinks do ensue.
I do like that this is a movie willing to directly address the fact that one of its characters looks like Angelina Jolie. Depp’s character sees her and immediately audio-auto-corrects. “FUCK! …You’re ravenous.” Lady’s got Johnny M’F’in’ Depp mesmerized. I buy that. For a minute, at least. THE TOURIST does strain the believability of Johnny Depp as a hapless schmuck long past its recognizable limits. It got to the point where I was focusing on the fact that Johnny Depp speaks in a perfect American accent in this movie whereas he has that weird Robin Williams accent when he talks in interviews. Is he putting us on in real life? I don’t think this line of thinking is where Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck wanted our minds to go.
Crap. I used up a lot more consonants. Didn’t expect I’d have to do that again.
THE TOURIST isn’t a great movie. All of its action scenes are pretty boring so the music has to work overtime to compensate. There are a bunch of double-crosses and even a surprising reveal or two, but I kind of dozed through them and wasn’t much moved to care. Some people hate this movie, but I don’t think it’s a movie to hate. It’s a movie to forget. It’s forgettable. If you’ve seen the poster, you’ve seen the movie. What was I talking about again?