It turns out that Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp are a match made in Hollywood heaven, based on the evidence of The Tourist. Both are innately attractive adults and grown-up heartthrobs in their respective genders, with minimal acting talent but great box-office draw and manicured mystique. In The Tourist, the actors operate at about 58% of their already meager abilities, which is plenty enough to get the job done on a movie so God-awful you don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or demand a refund—or all of the above.
The Tourist, based on the French film Anthony Zimmer, is one of the unabashed stinkers in a Hollywood year that seems uncommonly mediocre so far. (We’re holding out hope that the end-of-the-year crop brings some 11th-hour gleam to our movie houses.) The plot in a nutshell is this: There are über-bad guys keen to recoup a bundle of misappropriated money and kick ass, some secret agents, and mistaken or masked identity involving much chasing around Venice, dodging bullets and boats.
Jolie basically poses her way through the film, relying on her lips-that-won’t-quit, icy seductress stare, and her sexy queenly mien, bringing to mind a wax museum Stepford Wife more than a stately goddess. Depp plays a slightly awkward Wisconsin math teacher, seemingly now embroiled in a love affair and a death-defying scheme in Italy. A plot twist at the end, which makes no sense, is greeted with the utterly disinterested and gaping yawns of us moviegoers, who have endured two hours in the dark with a turkey.
Nobody involved in this production—which wriggled between such potential directors as Lasse Hallström and Alfonso Cuarón before landing with German director Florian Henckel (The Lives of Others) von Donnersmarck—seems to care much about this thing. Even James Newton Howard, a fine if uneven film composer who has done a lot of great work along with more generic turns, puts out one of the lamest scores of his career, perhaps lowering himself to the film’s acknowledged standards.
But, ah, Venice. The most impressive and seductive factor in the movie is the location itself, and we can take some solace in the fact that the filmmakers got a nice trip out of the project. Meanwhile, we’re stuck in a multiplex, admiring Jolie’s lips and Depp’s “What, me worry?” maw.