The spy thriller craze is nothing new. And even this year, both of Angelina Jolie's starring roles have been as agents in spy related films. After Salt earlier this summer, Jolie returns in the US remake of a 2005 French film called The Tourist, playing Elise Ward, a woman who is instructed by her partner to find a stranger on a train that resembles him and make the international authorities tracking her believe that the stranger is him. Johnny Depp stars as the unlikely victim of Jolie's plotting and the film follows the mistaken identity story from there.
Earlier this summer, another spy thriller that teamed two big actors was Knight and Day, an action/romance/comedy hybrid that brought good laughs and great thrills through a very lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek way. The Tourist takes itself much, much more seriously as Depp and Jolie play their parts pretty straight. Depp not only looks a lot like his Pirates of the Caribbean Jack Sparrow character with the goatee and longer hair, but he occasionally seems to slip into a few of the iconic character's mannerisms. But ultimately, Depp's role as math teacher-on-holiday Frank Tupelo is more of your average joe than he's used to playing. For the casual moviegoer, The Tourist delivers the promised entertainment, but it's done in a rather dry way and paced almost too slowly. The pacing is more on par with similar films from the days of film gone by, like Hitchcock's era or even before. But for today's audiences looking for a faster-paced story and more action, The Tourist will bore more than anything.
Angelina Jolie is good as the mysterious and sexy Elise Ward, but she does her best to remain hard to read. And Depp's Frank is clearly intrigued by her. Still, when it comes to the romantic elements, when it's revealed that there's a growing attraction between the two, it may be obvious as to why Frank would be attracted to Elise, but it's not so much as to why Elise would return the affection. Depp is also good in his respective role, but considering the fact that his character is supposed to be pretty plain and laid back, his charm is dulled more than the film needs him to offer. The movie's finale gives Depp a few minutes to shine, but it may come a bit too late. Paul Bettany is always reliable as an intense actor and his portrayal as Inspector John Acheson may be the most passionate and intense of the bunch... which isn't necessarily a good thing. And since both Jolie and Depp are known for being great actors in other films, one must assume the problems can be blamed on the film's direction (from Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck) and the script.
Still, despite its flaws, The Tourist doesn't feel like a complete loss. Depp and Jolie fans will probably enjoy watching the two pair up on screen for the first time. It's a good match, one that could have been better but is still enjoyable. While the feel of the film and the type of chemistry the actors share in such a situation and setting can be comparable to a film like Charade or To Catch A Thief, the problem is that the dialog isn't witty or interesting enough and the acting just isn't as colorful. Watching the conversations between Elise and Frank on the train and seeing them unfold rather casually, reminds me of much better train encounter sequences in other films, namely between Bond and Vesper in Casino Royale or Roger and Eve in North By Northwest. Still, director Donnersmarck still keeps the viewer on their toes as the film draws to its conclusion - an ending that will surprise some, but not all. In the end, it's an enjoyable movie, but those who have seen better know that The Tourist could have been a lot more.
The content for the film, like everything else in it, is pretty light. However, there are two "F" words (one uttered in the beginning by Bettany and another quite oddly by Depp) and two "S" words, with a use of "a--h*le," "Oh my G-d," "Oh, G-d," and five uses of "h*ll." Surprisingly enough, that's the extent of the language. There may have been some uttered in Russian or Italian, but it was tough to tell. Aside from that, we see a brief kiss as well as a passionate kiss during a dream sequence, and some brief violence during a boat chase, a rooftop chase, when a mafia boss strangles one of his men to death, and when some bad guys are gunned down. Otherwise, The Tourist may be one of the more tame PG-13 films of this genre you'll see all year (especially taking into consideration Jolie's previous film Salt which was pretty ridiculously violent).
The Tourist is one of those movies that may leave you with mixed feelings by the time the credits roll. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the almost-two-hour escapist entertainment, but upon further pondering the film, I realize just how flawed it really is. Its great cast and beautiful scenery in Venice, Italy make it a fun watch, but those expecting something extraordinary will curse their ticket purchase. If classic spy films that are light on action and story are of interest to you, the film is worth checking out. For everyone else... ever hear of Redbox?
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 12/11/10)
Blu-Ray Special Features Review
The Tourist looks great in high definition on Blu-Ray disc. With such beautiful scenery from Venice, it's really a great-looking film first and foremost. Seeing it a second time, I still enjoyed the movie, but the flaws were even more noticeable while also still feeling forgivable (in other words, I can still enjoy it enough despite its weaknesses). The chemistry between Jolie and Depp lacks and that may not be the fault of their pairing as much as it is probably due to lackluster direction or a lazy script. Still, the film has a To Catch A Thief, classic movie kind of feel, and it's passable on that account. The other thing I noticed upon viewing it a second time is that, for some reason, it looks like The Tourist may have, at one-time, been intended to be a rated-R film. The tip-off for this was noticing a couple times where Paul Bettany's character was over-dubbed where he would otherwise be using the "F" word. There are already two uses in this movie, both random and unnecessary, and it's clear that at least a few others were removed (or just overdubbed with something else... like "bloody" instead). Other than language, there is only PG-13 style violence and some sensuality, so it really doesn't seem like the kind of movie that would need to be as restricted as it looks like it may have originally intended to be.
For those who enjoyed the film and want to delve a bit deeper into the filmmaking of The Tourist, the Blu-Ray disc offers several extras...
Outtake Reel (1:26) - This opens with Paul Bettany, Johnny and Angelina all sitting in an interview talking about working together on the film and goofing up, which then cuts to blooper footage from filming. It's sadly very short but and mostly just shows the cast laughing during takes on the set.
Alternate Animated Title Sequence (2:14) - This is exactly what it sounds like -- an alternate opening sequence that is slickly animated with 2D style drawings (looking almost like paper cutouts) that highlight some different moments of the film and its characters. It feels more like a James Bond intro than anything else. It was probably a smart move to not use it.
Tourist Destination - Travel The Canals of Venice (3:17) - This brief featurette is sort of a love letter about filming in Venice. It features the central cast and crew talking about working there and how beautiful and intriguing the city is. It includes some footage of the city, but not really any behind-the-scenes of the filming of the movie.
Bringing Glamour Back (9:08) - This is a behind-the-scenes segment that shows on-set footage as they talk about the glamourous feel of The Tourist and the elegance they were aiming to capture on the screen. It covers filming in Venice, some set building, and even the costumes in the film. This is a great look into the making of the movie.
Action In Venice (6:29) - This is dedicated to the Canal boat chase and the filming of it. They reveal here that because the film The Italian Job had filmed a boat chase in Venice, the locals had been so upset by the disturbance it caused that they hadn't wanted any more action sequences filmed in Venice. This caused the crew to have to rethink the boat chase and try to film it as real as possible... without it being a high speed chase, either. It's a fun and entertaining featurette.
A Gala Affair (7:12) is dedicated to the gala/ball sequence in the film and how they chose and altered the location in Venice and what went into orchestrating the scene. It also reveals that some of the dancing in the film wasn't even planned until they actually filmed the scene!
Canal Chats (6:01) is another featurette about Venice, but this time is more about the process of filming in Venice as the director, Florian, talks about the experience as he rides a boat through the bay. We also hear from the cast and screenwriter about their thoughts and feelings about the Canal.
To round out the special features is a director commentary audio track from Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Overall, it may seem a little light on the extras at first glance (and each of them are under 10 minutes), but there is a satisfying amount of bonus content included on The Tourist blu-ray release for those who enjoyed the film. And given how beautiful this film looks, seeing it in high definition is certainly the way to experience it.
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 3/20/11)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Sex/Nudity: Two surveillance guys watching Elise wonder if she is "wearing underwear today," to which their boss scolds them to act more professional; Elise shows some cleavage in her attire from time to time; We see Elise slowly unzip her evening dress, and she stops when her doorknob begins to turn. We then see her finish and briefly see her in her lingerie/nightgown (which also shows some cleavage) as she gets into bed; Frank wakes up and goes into Elise's room to find her standing with her back to him in some kind of black evening sleep attire. They then passionately kiss (we just see their heads in this shot) and he then wakes up on the couch, having just dreamt all of it.
2 "f" words, 2 "s" words, 5 "h*ll," 1 "a--h*le," 1 "oh my G-d," 1 "oh G-d," 2 "b*stard"
We see some drinking on a train; Frank appears to have drunk too much as we see him in the hotel room with Elise and downing a drink; We see Frank and Elise drinking a couple times
Blood/Gore: As the camera passes over several bodies that have been gunned down, we very briefly see a bullet hole in the jacket of one of them, and possibly a little bit of blood under their heads (but it may just be a shadow)
Two men fire on Frank, who runs out onto a rooftop and then jumps into a marketplace, crushing a fruitstand and accidentally knocking an officer into the canal; We see Frank handcuffed to a motor boat and Elise comes by, ties a rope to the boat and pulls it behind her. A couple men then pursue them, with one ending up in the water as we see him get hit in the head by the boat; Shaw strangles one of his men to death with a tailor's measuring tape; A man punches Frank in the stomach and two guys carry him off; A man threatens a woman with a knife, even dragging it across her lips; A few men hold others at gun point; A team of police fire on a room full of Russian mafia, killing them
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content. However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.