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'The Tourist' should have its visa revoked

December 12, 2010|Bob Garver | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • Johnny Depp, left, and Angelina Jolie star in Columbia Pictures' "The Tourist."
Johnny Depp, left, and Angelina Jolie star in Columbia Pictures' "The Tourist."

It is usually a good thing to know that actors had a good time filming a movie. If the movie is a comedy, their natural glee will make their performances that much more believable.

If the actors are good friends with each other, their chemistry will bring out the best in each other’s performances even if the movie isn’t a comedy.

However, it is a bad thing that Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie had fun filming “The Tourist,” because there is no reason for “The Tourist” to exist other than for Depp and Jolie to have fun.

“The Tourist” is another one of those dreadful “Actors’ Paid Vacation” movies. 2004’s “Ocean’s Twelve” is probably the most well-known example of this formula, but it might soon be replaced with “The Tourist.”

APV movies happen when big name actors want to take a break from their busy schedules. They sign on to do an easy movie in a beautiful location (in this case Venice). Nobody else can book them during this time because they are technically working. They get to spend a few weeks having fun goofing around on a set, and the studio is OK with this because they get to promote a movie with an exotic location and big name actors. Everybody wins, except the people who pay to see a movie that was made just so the actors could enjoy themselves and not because it actually deserved to be made.

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Jolie stars as Elise, girlfriend to criminal banker Alexander Knox. Scotland Yard is after Knox, but their only lead is Elise. At least that’s the excuse that the team, led by Acheson (Paul Bettany), uses to look at Elise all day.

Elise isn’t much of a lead, since a year of surveillance hasn’t gotten the team a single good look at Knox. It turns out that Knox may have recently had plastic surgery, so even Elise may not know what he looks like anymore.

The film goes far out of its way to establish that nobody knows what Knox looks like, which means that he’s either going to be played by a big-name actor in a shocking cameo or someone hiding in plain sight. One day, Elise gets instructions to meet up with Knox.

But since Knox knows Acheson’s team is following her, she is supposed to throw them off his trail by befriending someone on a train and making the team think he’s Knox. She chooses Frank (Depp), an American tourist.

Frank goes along with her because he’s not about to turn down someone who looks like Angelina Jolie. Acheson is fooled for a split second before figuring out that Frank is nobody.

That split second causes a mole inside Scotland Yard to believe that Frank is Knox, and he passes his picture to a dangerous gangster that Knox crossed. Acheson is still following Elise to get to Knox, and the real bad guys are following the couple because they think Frank is Knox.

Again, the film isn’t really about the plot with the mistaken identities. The film takes 45 minutes to get to the slightest hint of an action sequence, and the plot barely picks up after that.

The point of the film is that we get to “enjoy” Frank and Elise killing time in Venice the same way Depp and Jolie enjoyed themselves killing time in Venice. They stay in a ritzy hotel, they eat decadent food, she wears gorgeous dresses, they exchange in cutesy dialogue, and there are plenty of beautiful shots of Venice’s canals and gondolas.

It’s a good-looking film to be sure, but it needs to do more than look good to be worth two hours of your time, not to mention your money.

“The Tourist” isn’t worth the trip.

One star out of five.

The film is rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language. It runtime is 115 minutes.

Contact Bob Garver at rrg251@nyu.edu.

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