The Tourist
 
            We first encounter Angelina Jolie through the lenses of the men watching her from a surveillance vehicle, complete with the latest high-tech equipment.  They are French, we assume they’re police, and they are watching her movements carefully, and reporting them to a British Interpol official.  We know this is high-order espionage.  But we’re not yet sure of the context.  We only know that they aren’t taking their eyes off her.
            The truth is, “The Tourist’ is such a glamour showcase for the alluring Ms. Jolie that the viewers can’t keep their eyes off her, either.  Whether she’s just walking down the street in Paris , or driving a motorboat in a Venice canal, or escaping through a crowded subway, we remain beguiled.
            So does Johnny Depp, who plays an American math teacher vacationing in Europe following the loss of his spouse.  He is unprepared for her dazzling attention when she encounters him on the train.  As it turns out, she needs him to deflect attention away from her, but he soon realizes that this is a harrowing situation, and there are thugs after her as well as some mysterious government people following her around, as well, and what is going on here, anyway?
            For her part, Elise (Ms. Jolie) plays the unexplained riddle wrapped in a puzzling enigma.  She doesn’t even always answer his questions.  She speaks quietly and softly, with a kind of economy of words that doesn’t seem to encourage blathering banter.  She doesn’t appear to be a person of violence, and yet violent people are pursuing her constantly, and she remains unflappable and resourceful.
            Now for the criticisms.  Depp is underutilized in this role; his character here is so subdued (and overwhelmed) that his trademark charisma (especially as the swashbuckling Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean ”) all but disappears.  Jolie seems aloof to the point of expressionless and impassionate.  Her English accent is only passable; it’s not overdone, but it’s not entirely consistent, either.  And worst of all, the whole plot involves an enormous viewer deception.  Of course, even complaining about that is a kind of a “spoiler” in itself, but the whole dynamic calls for more than suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer; it demands a suspension of annoyance for being misled.
            “The Tourist” has a an old-fashioned feel to it, like it could have been made in the 1950’s, and we could just as easily be watching the weightless Audrey Hepburn grace the screen, constantly dolled up and virtually unapproachable.  There’s little or no objectionable language, the violence is muted and bloodless, and even the villain is menacing with a kind of cosmopolitan fluency.  You almost expect to see James Bond pop up at any moment---wait, he does---Timothy Dalton, a former James Bond, playing a Scotland Yard supervisor, expresses an ironic admiration for a man of the world who manages, somehow, to get away with playing fast and loose with procedure, and exude the kind of debonair savior faire that inevitably attracts unapproachable women, like moths to flame.
            “The Tourist,” though starring a couple of the premier “A” list actors of our era, is actually a throwback to a more innocent time of filmmaking.  It won’t win any Academy Awards.  But it’s strangely nostalgically satisfying.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas