Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Starring Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany
“The Tourist” has some glaring weak points: The pacing is off, the music is unbearably sappy and the characters are awfully broad. Yet there’s something about its careful slyness that perpetually teases you, commanding your attention until, lo and behold, the music and pacing suddenly work. Or maybe this is just what happens when you put Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp on the same screen — they seduce you into liking the film despite your better judgment.
Depp plays an American tourist named Frank, who gets singled out during a trip to Italy by a ravishing (or “ravenous,” as he calls her in one of his many misnomers) woman named Elise (Jolie). Unbeknownst to him, Elise has picked him to be a decoy for her boyfriend, an international thief who’s been on the run from Scotland Yard for a couple of years and is also being hunted down by a mobster that he double-crossed.
Naturally, Elise and Frank develop feelings for each other, but one thing’s for certain: “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” this is not. Jolie and Depp keep things platonic and even dull through most of the movie. Indeed, restraint is the name of the game for Elise, who is the consummate woman of mystery. If you’re hoping for a steamy sex scene, or even a tepid one, you will be disappointed.
In fact, it’s best to see “The Tourist” with no expectations whatsoever. Just when you think you’re watching a thriller, the movie veers, bizarrely, into borderline romantic comedy territory (accompanied by the aforementioned sappy music). Then just when you’re getting used to the schmaltzy romance, it feels like a thriller again. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who directed the excellent “The Lives of Others,” never quite strikes the right balance between romance, comedy and action. Unwieldy as “The Tourist” is, though, Jolie and Depp are sufficiently charming, and the script yields enough wit and plot twists to beguile you.