★ ★ ★
The Tourist is the sophomore effort of German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark. His debut film, Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), in 2006 was one of the best films of that year and won countless awards including the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Needless to say, I think anyone anticipating this movie had high hopes. It was a chance for this brilliant director to work with two of the world’s foremost leading actors and with a budget 50 times that of his debut film. Unfortunately, it seems that something was lost in translation.
The film focuses on the girlfriend (Angelina Jolie) of a man named Alexander Pierce, whom has stolen several billion dollars from an English gangster (Steven Berkoff). Law enforcement organizations from all over the world are trying to locate him for back taxes in the neighborhood of $800 million, primarily the British government. So, in hopes he will make contact with Jolie’s character, they keep a very close watch on her at all times. As a diversion, she pawns the Interpol official into thinking unsuspecting American math teacher Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) is Pierce (as Pierce has supposedly had a multi-million dollar facial reconstruction recently). Without giving too much away, the plot goes back and forth in much the manner of a Cary Grant vehicle such as Charade. While trying to keep action and suspense high, there are the ever-present moments of comedic effort and surprise.
The problem is, however, that Depp’s character doesn’t sell the same charisma that Grant was able to pull off and, in turn, Jolie doesn’t have the same cool style that Audrey Hepburn exuded in similar roles. I really appreciate the ode to those wonderful films of the 1950s and 1960s and The Tourist has some really interesting parts to it, but the execution just doesn’t work.
I know this sounds like a pretty bad review, but I wouldn’t say that the film is not worth watching. It’s not a terrible film by any means, it’s just with the talent involved, the script and the budget accompanying, I feel like a much better product should have come out in the end. Every major director has their hits and misses, so I don’t want to lambast Donnersmark much for making a film that didn’t live up to my expectations. I hope his next effort is closer to the glory of Das Leben Der Anderen, but in reality, I think any director would be happy to have just one film of that caliber to their name in an entire career and Donnersmark, at 37, can’t complain with his current track record.