There's Not Much To See

30 Dec

SINGAPORE – “The Tourist” is supposed to evoke a certain era of film-making – one that celebrated the romance and grandeur of movies.

It features rich, glamorous people being all classy and sophisticated in Venice. It attempts intrigue and mystery served up with wit and humour. But by the end of the film, all it achieves is convincing you that a vacation to Venice with someone rich would be lovely.

Johnny Depp is Frank, an ordinary American mathematics teacher visiting Italy. He meets the mysterious Elise, played by Angelina Jolie with a terribly generic British accent recycled from “Tomb Raider”, who is looking for her beau Alexander – who is in turn wanted by Interpol for tax evasion, and also by the Russian mob for stealing $2 billion from them.

Somewhere along the way, Frank gets embroiled in a case of mistaken identity, and it is revealed that some characters are not who they say they are, and poor Paul Bettany pops up in a thankless role as an Interpol agent, begging for someone who'll find him a decent gig soon.

Writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose “Lives Of Others” won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2007, aims for a charming, sophisticated, Hitchcockian caper – breezy entertainment for adults – but the film doesn't have the zing it needs to become the romp it wants to be.

It moves at far too relaxed a pace to be a competent thriller, and it doesn't illicit the laughs it needs to be a comedy. Leaving the viewer with the question: What is it I'm watching, exactly?

What's even worse – the answer is: We don't particularly care. It's hard to care when the film doesn't give you any reason to.

Depp and Jolie add star power with their marquee names, but they are miscast and pretty much sleepwalk through the film (does Johnny even sound American anymore?).

Joining Bettany on the roster of wasted talent are Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff, Rufus Sewell and Raoul Bova – mainly because they aren't given anything to do. Which is particularly upsetting seeing as the film was written by not one, but three Oscar winners.

On the upside though, Jolie wears some fabulous dresses and Venice looks gorgeous. That's about it.

Channel News Asia

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