Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Tourist

Seen Enough of Venice?

A lot has been said about how insipid this film turned out to be, even with the appeal of two of Hollywood's A-listers in Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie failing to lift this film from mediocrity. I'd beg to differ and wonder whether these blabbers have grown so accustomed to Jolie kicking ass as some sexed up alpha-female, and Depp being flamboyant under dark eyeliner, that they refuse to accept anything else should these two actors decide to take a break and play, well, ordinary Joe and Jane.

It's a breath of fresh air to see them do absolutely nothing to reinforce their typical persona stereotypes. For once I don't have to witness Jolie being the action heroine, and Depp junking his quirky characterization, playing two folks who fall in love under extraordinary circumstances when they first meet on a Euro-train travelling from one romantic city to another - Paris to Venice - and for once felt a little helpless rather than almost always coming out on top. The courtship ritual is just plain hilarious even though the lines may appear a little stilted, playing upon the usual games people play in hooking up. Needless to say the twists and turns from the mid point to the last act isn't something that you won't see coming, and in some ways continue to play up to expectations of an average caper involving a major mistaken identity.

An adaptation of the French film Anthony Zimmer, The Tourist was one heck of a troubled project to begin with, having revolving doors for lead cast and the director even, before settling for Depp and Jolie, with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who gave us The Lives of Others, at the helm of this Euro-thriller. Jolie plays Elise Clifton-Ward, an elegant clotheshorse who is tailed by a Scotland Yard team managed by Paul Bettany's Inspector John Acheson, who is dead set on keeping a mark on this female target so as to chance upon any opportunity to capture her main squeeze Alexander Pearce, the enigma of this story who has embezzled money from the mob, as well as evaded government taxes.

In a betrayal of Judas proportions, Elise condemns her new acquaintance Frank Tupelo (Depp), an American math school teacher on holiday whom she deliberately picked out amongst the passengers as instructed for his close physical resemblance to Pearce, to being marked himself by Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff), the man whom Pearce had stolen from and is looking to recover his money, pride and seek revenge, which leads this film into a cat and mouse chase involving both the cops and the robbers after our two leads, who soon find it difficult not to fall in love after pulling through the ordeal they're under. But for their good looks and individual charisma, sparks didn't fly and you're constantly left wondering whether they would, or won't, and if there's always more than meets the eye.

Those looking for action in this caper will definitely be disappointed, as set action pieces are few and far between, looking very tame from a rooftop chase to a motorboat pursuit, which don't break any new ground. Attempts at comedy usually fell flat, and you'll get more fun from the string of recognizable cameos from Timothy Dalton to Rufus Sewell popping up from time to time. Visuals are absolutely gorgeous since it's set on location allowing for the capture of Venice's best side and angle, and made me reminisce my own limited time spent in the city, and fashionistas will likely go gaga over the designs put onto Jolie.

While this film may be somewhat of a weaker cousin to all the spy versus spy movies out there, it isn't as bad as most would have said it was. It doesn't have any big explosions nor noisy gun fights, lacked a certain sharpness in wit in its dialogue which could be worst if not for the screen presence of Depp and Jolie, and a final twist that wasn't really necessary, something I felt robbed the show of its ultimate emotional quotient of the everyday, average Joe who had risked everything to dream of walking away into the sunset with the girl.

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