by Matt Stevens | Thu., Dec. 9, 2010 7:00 PM
Review in a Hurry: This international trip isn't worth the ticket price. While vacationing in Italy, an American tourist (Johnny Depp) stumbles into a trap set by a sexy British agent (Angelina Jolie). Never as clever, exciting, or romantic as it wants to be, The Tourist underwhelms on every level.
The Bigger Picture: OK, you kinda expect the plot to be silly and disposable, but where's the cracklin' chemistry between megawatt stars Depp and Jolie? Without Johngelina generating any heat, The Tourist is like a cheesy action-romance novel with all the guilty pleasures taken out.
While on a train from Paris to Venice, the mysterious Elise (Jolie) flirts with mild-mannered Frank (Depp in a bad scraggly beard), a math teacher from Wisconsin. See, Frank resembles her lover, Alexander Pearce, who's on the lam after stealing billions from mobsters. Elise is also under surveillance by Scotland Yard; the organization believes she'll lead them to Pearce and the tax money he owes.
Though puzzled by Elise's attentions, Frank allows himself to be lured into both her web of deceit and her luxury hotel suite. Mistaken for Pearce, he ends up being pursued by a badass Brit gangsta with bumbling Russian goons. Rooftop chases and shootouts ensue. Too bad there's no rat-a-tat-tat in the banter between Frank and Elise, who—quickly and incredibly—fall in love amid the intrigue.
These Strangers on a Train tracked by those who want To Catch a Thief are not in a Hitchcockian thriller, though that's clearly the style director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck was trying to achieve. (See his sublime The Lives of Others instead.) But the pic is short on wit, sophistication, action—save for a fun motorboat chase—and then forces a ridiculous, though not unpredictable, twist of an ending.
All smoky eyes and slinky poses, Jolie purrs and saunters through every scene, as passersby strain to catch glimpses of her. It's pretty laughable after a while. And Depp, who's more than capable of laying on the charm (got Chocolat?), is oddly muted here, sleepwalking through the role. You're likely to nod off as well.
The 180—a Second Opinion: After seeing the exotic locales, from Parisian streets and cafés to the Italian countryside and canals you'll be saving your Euros for a European vacation.