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
, or driving a motorboat in a
canal, or escaping through a crowded subway, we remain beguiled.
So does Johnny Depp, who plays an American math teacher vacationing in
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
”) 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