Review: The Tourist

Pretty stars in a pretty city aren't enough for  The Tourist .
Pretty stars in a pretty city aren't enough for The Tourist .

(M) **

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Steven Berkoff, Rufus Sewell, Timothy Dalton.

THIS remake of recent French thriller Anthony Zimmer features two of the world’s most beautiful people in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Not surprisingly, it’s a beautiful film to look at. Unfortunately for The Tourist, looks ain’t everything.

Depp plays Frank, a hapless American tourist whose life turns into a spy novel when he shares a train seat with mysterious Englishwoman Elise Ward (Jolie).

Little does Frank know, but he’s a patsy — Elise is using him to trick the surveillance team following her. She wants them to think Frank is really her former flame, Alexander Pearce, who supposedly disappeared with a large sum of money and got himself a new face.

Pearce is also supposedly waiting for Elise in Venice, but who will get there first — Elise, the authorities or the gangster Pearce stole millions from? And what’s going to happen to Frank?

The Tourist works best when it focuses on its gorgeous stars. Jolie and Depp have a sparkling chemistry — their first meeting on the train is one of the better scenes — and it elevates the film markedly.

Elsewhere, the movie sags. The action scenes lack punch, the story drags as we get the same information from numerous different characters and the thriller elements just aren’t that thrilling.

Henckel von Donnersmarck does little with the material and the film is decidedly throwaway, which may have something to do with the director apparently quitting over “creative differences” only to jump back on board in time to start shooting.

The Tourist is not totally unenjoyable and it has a certain charm. But it’s not thrilling enough to be a thriller, lacks much in the way of laughs (the trailer for this film had better comedic timing) and if it weren’t for the presence of Jolie and Depp it would have slipped through the cracks completely.