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May 2011

The Tourist

cast: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, and Steven Berkoff

director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

100 minutes (12) 2010
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Optimum DVD Region 2

RATING: 1/10
review by Mike Philbin

The Tourist

If I really hate a film, say Clay Pigeons, it usually takes me less than a few minutes to a) get angry enough to press the stop button, and/or b) rip its ass out in a review format later. But this one, this mangled abortion, I'm gonna take unusual pleasure in dissecting.

First, did you spot it?
What?
It's a spy thriller.
So?
Well, James Bond movies are also spy thrillers. So were True Lies, Mr & Mrs Smith. So was Syriana.
Yes, and..?
Well, it never really bothered me that much before.
What did? Cut to the chase, man. Cut to the bloody chase!

It was the arrival of two characters in The Tourist that started to make me think this way, too. And it was insidious the way it crept up on me. I don't know if other viewers saw this, if other people watching this film actually started to hear this voice in their head.

Think what way? What voice?

Dalton and Bettany, right, the MI6 guys in (supposed) control of this $8 million operation to catch $744 million dollar tax dodger Alexander Pearce, they were (at least this was the impression I got) playing it for laughs? They were playing the whole Secret Service same for laughs.

I know, it can't be, right? I mean, it's advertised on the back of the box by The People as, "A sexy, glamorous thriller," not a running joke that Depp keeps speaking Spanish to everyone he meets en route to, during and after his visit to Venice. I mean, it was sorta funny, the speaking Spanish joke. But that's the impression I got from the whole film. Sorta funny, but unintentionally so� Unconvincing. Odd. Cringe-worthy. I kept shouting at the screen, 'Do something!'

The Tourist had a (wait for this) $100,000,000 budget and talk about creative accounting, I'd bet anyone to swear they could see all of it on-screen. They must have left all the good stuff, all the quality content on the cutting room floor, surely. Take the score. You know, that music thing that grabs you by the throat, that thing that caresses your emotions, the thing that lifts you when it needs to and can bring you crashing down to the ground that, in the right hands, carries the while film and sets a mood, an atmosphere, anything. It didn't seem to know what particular mood it was trying to mould, sculpt, enhance, or define. It seemed not only diffuse, but derivative - I'm sure I caught a couple of phrases from a Harry Potter theme tune in there; Harry Potter! Take that awful score, take it and shove it.

Character development..? There was none. Depp and Jolie and Berkoff(!) and Dalton and Bethany just read some rubbish lines out and some cinematographer chose some shots for the director who seemed to spend most of his narrative on-screen timeline pulling fluff out of his navel until the till rang and the party ended.

Frank: "You're ravenous."
Elise: "Do you mean 'ravishing'"?
Frank: "I do."

I mean, these are billed as an A-List of bloody good actors; treading water?

Secret agent skills in this 'secret agent' film..? There were none. I mean, you think of spy thrillers you think of James Bond, you think of Jason Bourne, you think of Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible, you even think of Nikita, think of Salt, think of� just keep naming them, in your own heads, I'm close to having a nervous breakdown and the names just aren't coming any more. It takes Angelina Jolie's character 'Elise Clifton-Ward' like 13 minutes of on-screen time just to pick the lock of a pair of handcuffs. Jolie (having herself starred in one or two of the aforementioned spy thrillers) could have done the job quicker herself. Any secret agent worth his 'salt' jams his/ her door opener thing and 'pop' opens the door. Done. I know it's not real. You know it's not real. But it keeps the movie moving, movie, geddit, they move, along, hopefully at some sort of pace. But no; not this one.

Pace: this was the funniest gag of all - boat chases in Venice don't work when there's a three-mile-per-hour speed limit in the city. You'd see more action on the Manchester ship canal.

I kept watching, though, while plastic actors strolled uneasily through ballroom scenes and mega-bucks undercover accounts were blown via the gross incompetence of corporate espionage drones, and it hit me. The game. It's all a massive waste of money. And I felt shocked. I mean. Stop. This is your money they're wasting.

What? Yeah, I've dropped out of the movie review a bit, this is the real world. The intelligence services are throwing millions (billions) of your tax dollars around to play the corporate war game where no-one seems to know which hand they've just wiped their arse with. What? Oh, Venezuela went up in a ball of smoke, no worry old chap it was all insured. It's basically a blank-cheque economy of private-interest protection schemes (patents) and counter-terrorism lampoonery (aka: not knowing who your friends are in a sticky situation in, say, Libya). Anyway, this is a film review, not gruesome, garish, gut-wrenching reality - so, back to it:

Love interest. Well, you'd get more sweltering heat out of two mushroom-infested logs sitting next to each other in the crumbling shed-shade of a Norwegian dolie's allotment. Depp and Jolie had to 'hold this film together' with the cement of their emotional interaction. And, it just didn't stick. It was horrible, gawky, and awkward. Maybe too many 'differences' of artistic opinion..? Maybe too many rats leaving the sinking ship of this troubled production?

Dresses - now here's somewhere you could really see some serious money had been spent, and they let Angelina Jolie try to walk in them. I suspect Depp could have pulled off a more convincing wiggle. Seriously, I didn't see anything of value in this shoddy, tripey, nonsense of a film. The end.



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