The Tourist is a romantic action-comedy with little action, little comedy and even less romance. It plays out a lot more like a joke film rather than a serious picture, but it didn’t seem like anyone involved knew this. As a result, they play everything straight, but the film doesn’t feel that way to the audience, making it feel like everyone is out of place. In essence, The Tourist is a drama, but since all of the actors appear as if they thought it was a serious romantic action-comedy, everything falls flat.
Opening in Paris, we see a woman named Elise (Angelina Jolie) walking. She’s being followed, although it’s unclear if she knows this. She sits at a restaurant, and receives a letter. It’s from her husband, Alexander Pearce. It tells her that she’s being followed, and that she should take a train, find someone on this train who looks similar to what he looks like, and make it seem like they are an item. Apparently, Elise isn’t the one that is wanted, but it is instead Alexander.
Enter Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp), who is the pawn that Elise chooses. He’s unassuming and seemingly completely confused when it comes to communicating with another human being. And he smokes electronic cigarettes, reads mystery novels and squints a lot. Elise eventually takes him to a hotel in Venice, kisses him on the porch to allow others to see, and effectively leaves him to be captured the next morning. We find out that Alexander stole some money from a mobster and also owes over $1 billion dollars to the government in taxes. Everyone but Elise thinks that Frank is Alexander, and the rest of the film consists of Frank trying to prove himself innocent, other people trying to capture him and kill Elise, and a couple of twists that you’ll probably see coming but are still decent enough revelations.
There are a few moments where The Tourist works. It is worth watching when shots of Venice or Paris are shown, which are used primarily as transition sequences. The scenery is nice, and if you want a small sight-seeing tour, then this film will satisfy that desire. These are pretty much the only moments that are worth watching though, because the rest of the film is either uninteresting or confusing. The latter refers not only to the story, but also for some of the actors.
It didn’t really seem like any of the actors understood what type of film they are making. Jolie spent the entire film walking in slow motion, seeming as proper and elite as she could. Oh, and she has an English accent for little reason other than to sound more like a queen, I figure. Depp is the straight man, who doesn’t quite seem to like what’s going on, because he is innocent, but goes along with it anyway because that’s his role in the film. His actions rarely make sense if you think about it, but thinking about his actions is probably something you don’t want to spend much time on.
Instead, you should think about how preposterous the plot is, and more importantly, how such good actors were cast in supporting roles. Chasing Frank are two actors who are fairly well-known. The first is Paul Bettany, playing a police inspector. I guess his casting makes sense, because he doesn’t always choose the best projects. The second is Timothy Dalton, who I was incredibly shocked to see, and who really should have stayed away from this project. But then again, so should have the leads, so I suppose it does make sense. Money talks, right?
I mentioned that The Tourist fails to fulfill any of the genres that it is featured in. Let’s dissect each genre and explain why it isn’t satisfied. Firstly, the romance involved includes a nice dinner and a few kisses, most of which occur in a dream sequence. The two leads have no real chemistry, which makes the already lackluster romance feel like it possibly should have been removed altogether.
Second are the action scenes, of which there are only a couple as well. There is a chase scene, and another chase scene, and, well, that’s about it. One of these is on-foot, and the other takes place with boats. This is Venice, after all. Neither of these are all that entertaining, and neither is all that fun to watch. They also don’t add anything to the film, because they aren’t thrilling enough to excite the audience.
Finally is the comedy aspect. Don’t make me laugh! Whatever humor the film has comes directly from how crazy the plot is, how out of place the actors are and how poor everything ends up being. I wasn’t laughing with the film, I was laughing at it. Sometimes, films attempt this, but this isn’t one of them. It’s too serious to make me think that it wanted us to make fun of it.
The Tourist isn’t exciting, thrilling, romantic or funny, which means it doesn’t do enough right to make us feel anything for it. The leads seem lost, have no chemistry, and don’t seem to be into the project all that much. The only good thing about this film is the scenery of Paris and Venice, but since we don’t get many shots of just the scenery, and are instead forced to watch good actors do things that they don’t believe in.