After leaving THE TOURIST, I had to ask myself if the last 20 minutes of a film can make up for a very lackluster first 80 minutes. Although I’m engaged in an internal debate in regards to that answer, I can honestly say that in the case of THE TOURIST, the answer is “no”. I was left with too many questions after the curtain was pulled back (how/why did she choose to sit next to him on the train?) and what I thought I liked about the movie now doesn’t make sense and to a lesser extent, vice versa.
Elise (Angelina Jolie) is being watched by Interpol because she had a relationship with Alexander, a man that stole 744 million pounds from a wanted gangster. After receiving a mysterious note, she enlists the help of Frank (Johnny Depp) a stranger that “has the same structure and build” as Alexander. Since no one but her knows what he looks like, this encounter is to seemingly throw off Interpol so she and Alexander can be together. But things don’t go as planned since the mobsters he stole from are also out to get him. In other words, we have a bit of a role reversal where the woman is the super smart spy-type and the guy is the one that’s out of place. It’s charming at times, but it still feels off.
One of the positive notes in the film is with the dialogue exchange between Elise and Frank, which went exactly how I would imagine a conversation between a normal man and Angelina Jolie. It was cute in that Doris Day and Rock Hudson kind of way, but it was a small consolation to the extraordinary events that transpired later in the film. And no matter what you think of the film and the ending, it will always come back to “why did she choose to sit next to Frank?” I hate to dwell on that point, but it should have been addressed in some fashion. And yes, the film is better as I look back and realize that things I thought were out of place were really part of the plan all along, but I think there’s a way to do that without making the audience think you’re telling a bad story. It’s great to look back and figure things out, but you shouldn’t look back and completely change your mind about a film.
Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck chose an odd score that would have been better in a fairy tale film and not a man-on-the-run film. Although some of the dialogue was groan-inducing, it again goes back to the ending, which makes you look back on the film with different eyes. But overall, THE TOURIST feels like a Bond film without all the action. It requires us to suspend disbelief and fall in love with the characters and get caught up in the moment they find themselves in. Admittedly, that’s easier to do when you have two A-listers in their prime in the lead roles. I often times found myself laughing along, only to pause moments later and shake my head in disappointment.
This movie is going to be misunderstood by a lot of audiences. There were a lot of laughs (that I think were unintentional on the part of the filmmakers) in parts that I thought were supposed to be intense and there was confusion at various points where things weren’t clear. But when everything is said and done, this film falls flat on almost every level, save for about 20 minutes.