It seems that the campy approach isn’t just limited to horror and comedy flicks anymore. Over the last few years, the campy element has been inserted in all genres and The Tourist is no exception. A remake of the 2005 French film titled Anthony Zimmer, the 104 minute American product goes light on the mood and old-school with regards to the production qualities.
Elise (Angelina Jolie) is roaming around France as covert British financial crimes division monitor her every move. The reason for all this attention, Elise is the lover of an elusive financial criminal named Alexander Pierce. He is wanted in fourteen countries by federal authorities, Interpol and even the local police. Not so hot on Pierce’s trail is Agent Acheson (Paul Bettany). After years of unsuccessful stings – which has cost his agency millions of pounds – his superior Chief Jones (Timothy Dalton) is ready to pull the plug on the whole operation. However, Acheson is given one last chance and believes that Elise is about to reunited with her long lost lover. Problem is, no one knows what he truly looks like anymore.
Pierce has always been one-step ahead of Acheson and his agency though. By slipping random notes to Elise via numerous carriers, his latest instructions – or smokescreen – is for Elise to find someone who looks just like him and trick Acheson’s team in thinking that they have him located. Elise chooses unsuspecting tourist Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp). A math teacher on holiday in Venice, Italy, Frank instantly falls to the charm of Elise and follows her around like a little puppy. As Elise executes Pierce’s plan to perfection, Frank becomes a target. However, Pierce has wronged more people than just the government in his life. He has looted the ruthless Russian mobster Ivan Demidov (Steven Berkoff) as well. Upon learning of Pierce’s reappearance in Venice, the criminal lord sends his men to snag Frank.
So this turns into a nice little cat-and-mouse game with Frank playing the familiar innocent victim who just wants to win the heart of Elise. Of course, the real hook to the story…Who is Pierce and when will he make his grand entrance? This flick is pretty much The Thomas Crown Affair with more mystery. It can also feel like a mature and/or polished Pink Panther caper during the lighter moments. Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (can you think of a more arrogant name) doesn’t tip the scales in favor of seriousness or campy. Instead he finds a compromise by keeping the tone of the script straight-forward with the obvious foreshadowing twist at the end.
Which can be appealing if the performances can stay coherent enough so the audience can buy into them. A flick that comes to mind that manages to keep the plot engaging and the performances campy is Ocean’s Eleven. Tourist flashes the same personality of an Ocean’s flick. Yet the amount of flashes are more in line of friends taking pictures of a local band rather than the Super bowl kickoff. The characters are just not as crisp and/or lively. What hampers this flick is that it only has a small handful of players that are interesting. Add in the retro-pacing and the bare-bones action sequences, the audience could be forgetting this flick by the time they get to their car. Or before the credits. Frequent fans of this genre will have a solid chance of guessing how this will turn out. That said, the goal of this story is have one second guessing themselves. And they do achieve that response.
Once the story concludes, the performances start to make more sense. This aspect actually enables this flick to have replay value, if one couldn’t see where this is heading. Enough intriguing sequences qualify this as a thriller. Well, a thriller by 1960s standards. Thankfully, the Russian mob angle is highlighted just enough and stops the repetitive torture of seeing Angelina constantly give a stripper-stare to Johnny Depp and all the supporting players. Speaking of the enigma character actor, seeing Depp play a normal role took some adjusting to. Once he is allowed to break out of the restraints of being boring, Depp slowly becomes the main attraction.
Overall, The Tourist is a conservative piece that tries to be playful. Having said that, the crew probably needed to extend recess time. One will find moments that are just uneventful. Similar to being on a guided tour. A few stops along the way are worthless but occasionally something interesting keeps your mind involved. Sticking with the guided tour comparison, this flick is more a tour of the plain Australian outback as opposed to the eye-catching ruins of the Roman Empire.
Rating: 3 out of 5