Starring: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Rufus Sewell, Steven Berkoff
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmark
Writer(s): Florian Henckel von Donnersmark, Christopher McQuarrie, Julian Fellowes
Cinematography: John Seale
Original Score: James Newton Howard
Running Time: 103 mins.
This year has seen a strong boost in “Movie Star” driven Hollywood films, that is to say those films that hark back (or try to) to the Golden Age of film-making where people paid their hard-earned pennies to watch a production that was sold on glamourous actors such as Spencer Tracey, Audrey Hepburn, Clark Gable, to name but a few. So much was the draw of these stars that plot really didn’t matter all that much meaning all too often the plot was nigh-on inconsequential lacking much in the way of depth and leaving a clear path for some good old fashioned star-power to take centre stage.
With Salt, The American, Knight and Day and now The Tourist 2010 has seen those kind of shoe-string plotted “romps” through pretty locales with even prettier people populating them, problem is in this day and age audiences seem to be unable to sustain interest unless there are endless explosions, giant robots, mythical creatures or boy-wizards. Can an old school vehicle compete? On the basis of returns from The American, Knight and Day and Salt the answer is seemingly not quite cutting muster, hardly flops these are films that seemed unable to inspire audiences and The Tourist is unlikely to change this trend.
It is refreshing to see a film aimed not at a teen/early twenties age demographic, the locale, Venice, the glamour, Jolie, the bumbling yet ridiculously handsome leading man, Depp, and the simple plot? Not quite there. With his first English language film Donnersmark (who last helmed the award winning The Lives of Others) handles the gorgeous sights well, lingering on the ridiculously glamourous Jolie and pacing the action very well, making for a bright and breezy film. Sadly that is all it is, which means it cannot take that step beyond the surface sheen, though arguably it never seems to strive to be anything more other than in some rather tired plot twists late in the game. One of which I guessed from the other and the other a little more surprising.
Twists, however, are a funny thing. Some films are built upon them building up to the big reveal while others seem not to know what to do and pull the rug from under you with little to know effect other than that of surprise, to make a film seem cleverer than it really is! Make no mistake The Tourist is far from clever, and though the through line of the film’s love story (for it is a love story first and foremost) is built around some clever ideas of identity they are never fully formed or studied at enough depth. This means when the twists come they are a bit out of left-field and will leave you wondering why as much as anything.
The story utilises eleents of spy films and gangster films but not really in a coherent way, and with any event played for frothy fun rather than any sense of seriousness it all feels like a big budget panto romp around beautiful locales, though at Christmas time what is more apt. A lack of chemistry between leads and a handful of supporting turns by “dastardly villains” can be overlooked at this time of year for those in search of something that is delightfully fun with no substance.
Intelligent, full of depth and full of nuanced performances are some thing The Tourist cannot claim to be. If however you are after something that is light, frothy and starring some beautiful people in gorgeous locales generally having fun, this is for you, old school “movie star” entertainment that won’t trouble your brain but it will entertain if only until you leave the cinema.