From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Tourist - C+

Rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language, 105 minutes

Glitzy but forgettable "Tourist"

You remember those T-shirts that used to say "I went to __________ and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."? The new movie "The Tourist" is kinda like that. It takes you to a far off land, weaves a complex story and then leaves you empty-handed. Slick, pretty but uneven and a little slow at times, some of it works, some of it doesn't and the twist at the end is a tad baffling. What's for sure, "The Tourist" has some great scenery, particularly two handsome, huge movie stars in Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, both of whom play it smart and low-key.

Depp is an American tourist in Italy named Frank trying to get over a lost love. He runs into Jolie, a lovely British woman named Elise who is in Venice searching for a former but mysterious love named Alexander Pearce, who stole some money from some very bad guys and is now on the run. He's being pursued all the while by an agent (Paul Bettany) for Scotland Yard who has connections to them both.

Uneven but glitzy, muddled but somehow crowd-pleasing, "The Tourist" is a weak effort given the talent involved, Jolie, Depp and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director of the Oscar-winning German film "The Lives of Others." The film wavers too much between thriller and dark comedy but comes up rather empty-handed on both, and given the twist at the end, much of it's unnecessary and contrived.

Jolie and Depp play it well in roles they've played much better in other movies, especially Jolie, who did this thing much better in "Wanted" and earlier this year in "Salt." She's slowly becoming typecast playing women like this, and "The Tourist" reveals her self-effacing traits too much; her English accent wavers in and out too much. Depp is a little better in a woefully underwritten, unrevealing role that's one of his weakest. Bettany is solid, as is Steven Berkoff as the slimy villain; cinemaphiles will enjoy the fact that Berkoff played the equally slimy Victor Maitland in the first "Beverly Hills Cop" 27 years ago.

The silly, contrived script is especially a disappointment considering it was worked on my von Donnersmarck and Oscar-winning screenwriters Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park") and Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects"). The "Usual Suspects"-type twist at the end is especially disappointing and out-of-place with the rest of the film. Venice is beautifully filmed as are Depp and Jolie, but the movie comes up short in delivering a strong story and sympathetic characters you really care about. You'll pay $10 for a forgettable movie like "The Tourist" and all you'll end up with is a silly ending and greasy popcorn hands.