Friday, 10 February 2012

The Tourist (2010)

The Tourist is a 2010 romantic thriller film directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. It is a remake of the 2005 French action film Anthony Zimmer.

GK Films financed and produced this film, with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions releasing it in most countries through Columbia Pictures. The $100 million-budgeted The Tourist only grossed $68 million in North America theatrically, but performed much better in other countries and went on to gross $278 million worldwide.

Despite the negative reception from the critics, the film was nominated for three Golden Globes, with a debate arising over the question as to whether it was a comedy or a drama. Henckel von Donnersmarck repeatedly stated it was neither genre, calling it "a travel romance with thriller elements", but that if he had to choose between the two, he would choose comedy.

The Plot

The movie opens with Elise (Angelina Jolie) being followed by French Police, working with Scotland Yard under the direction of Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany). Acheson has spent years hunting Elise's old lover, Alexander Pearce, who owes £744 million in back taxes and is believed to have received 20 million dollars worth of plastic surgery to alter his appearance completely. At a cafe, Elise receives written instructions from Pearce: board a train to Venice, pick out a man who resembles Pearce, and make the police believe that this decoy is Pearce himself. Elise burns the note, then manages to evade the police and board the train. On the train, Elise picks Frank (Johnny Depp), an American high school teacher. She spends much time with him, seeming to start a romance. In the meanwhile, the police have managed to salvage the ashes of her burned note and assembled them to extract information regarding her rendezvous as well as her ruse. But an informer from the police station mistakenly communicates to Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff), a gangster from whom Pearce as accountant stole $2.3 billion, that Pearce is travelling with Elise on the train to Venice. Shaw immediately proceeds to Venice.

Elise invites Frank to stay with her at the hotel room that has been arranged for her in Venice. Pearce leaves further instructions for Elise to attend a ball. Elise abandons Frank, who is then chased by Shaw's men. While trying to escape from them, Frank is detained by the Italian police ostensibly for his own safety, only to have a corrupt inspector turn him over to Shaw's men in exchange for the bounty that has been placed on Pearce's head. Elise rescues Frank just before he is handed over, leading Shaw's men on an extended boat chase and escaping. She leaves Frank at the airport with his passport and money, urging him to go home for his own safety.

Elise is revealed to be a Scotland Yard undercover agent who may have become Pearce's ally. Because of her fears for Frank, she agrees to participate in a sting operation. At the ball, as Elise wanders around trying to spot Pearce in the crowd, an envelope is placed on the table in front of her by a man who then quickly disappears into the crowd. Elise sees that the envelope is for her, and believes that the man must be Pearce himself. She tries to follow him through the crowd, calling out his name, but is stopped by Frank who has managed to enter inside under a pretext.

Frank claims to be in love with her, and invites her to dance with him. But he is hauled away by the police, while Elise opens the envelope and finds a note mentioning a rendezvous point. She then heads off in her boat to this new rendezvous point. Shaw and his men tail her in their boat; both parties are followed discreetly by the police boat in which Frank is held handcuffed to stop him from obstructing the investigation.

When Elise arrives at the destination, Shaw takes her prisoner, threatening to harm her unless she reveals the location of the stolen money. The police monitor the situation inside the rendezvous room through audio and video links. Despite Elise's peril, Inspector Acheson repeatedly turns down police requests to intervene with their snipers. While the police are occupied in monitoring the situation, Frank escapes from the police boat and confronts Shaw, claiming to be Pearce who has undergone plastic surgery and offering to open the safe if Elise is allowed to leave safely. Shaw is skeptical and makes a counter offer that Frank should open the safe if he does not want to see Elise being cut up. Chief Inspector Jones (Timothy Dalton) arrives at the police stake-out, overrides Acheson, and orders the police snipers to fire into the room, killing Shaw and his men. Jones lifts Elise's suspension and also terminates her employment.

Acheson receives a radio message that Pearce has been found not far from the rendezvous point, and rushes to the location where police have detained the suspect. But the man claims to be just a tourist who has merely been following instructions texted to his mobile phone, to be present at certain locations, for which he has been receiving payments. Meanwhile, Elise tells Frank that she loves him, but she also loves Pearce. Frank then suggests a "solution" to this dilemma; to Elise's surprise, he opens the safe by entering the correct code, thus revealing that he is really Alexander Pearce. He and Elise then take the money and depart, leaving a cheque in the safe for the full amount of the taxes he owes. The police find the cheque when they return and blow the safe open. Acheson now realizes that Frank has indeed been Pearce all along, and wants to pursue him; but Jones determines that, with the taxes now paid fully, Pearce's only crime is that he stole money from a now-dead gangster. Jones orders the case to be closed. Frank and Elise sail away to a new life together, with Elise taking in and getting used to the new and completely altered face of her old lover.


The Tourist met with mostly negative reviews, with a 20% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 158 reviews. Its critical consensus states: "The scenery and the stars are undeniably beautiful, but they can't make up for The Tourist's slow, muddled plot, or the lack of chemistry between Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie."

Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars. Brandon Fibbs gave the film 2 and a half out of 4 stars, writing that "Henckel von Donnersmarck is allowed to have both a serious and a frothy side, but there is the feeling that he has not quite earned the liberty yet; that he needs a few more mature films under his belt before he can earn the right to say, “Time to do something fun and forgettable.”"  Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film 0 out of 4 stars, writing that "in a year of craptaculars, The Tourist deserves burial at the bottom of the 2010 dung heap". Travers would later place the film first on his list of the 10 worst movies of 2010, writing, "Depp and Angelina Jolie hit career lows, producing the chemistry of high-fashion zombies. The worst of the year, by a mile. Casey Burchby of DVD Talk acknowledged that the movie was "beautifully shot by the accomplished Oscar-winner John Seale," but that the "hastily-prepared film does not care one iota about its characters."

Positive English-language reviews include the Daily Mail, which gave it 5 out of 5 stars, calling the film "a glossy, sophisticated, gloriously improbable romp — escapist fun for these austere times".

The Tourist ended up on Rotten Tomatoes Top Critic Stephanie Zacharek's "10 Best Movies of 2010". Zacharek, in her review called The Tourist "a visually sensuous picture made with tender attention to detail and an elegant, understated sense of humor".

The Cast

Johnny Depp as Frank Tupelo
 Angelina Jolie as Elise Clifton-Ward
 Paul Bettany as Inspector John Acheson
 Timothy Dalton as Chief Inspector Jones
 Steven Berkoff as Reginald Shaw
 Rufus Sewell as The Englishman
 Christian De Sica as Colonnello Lombardi
 Alessio Boni as Sergente Cerato
 Daniele Pecci as Tenente Narduzzi
 Giovanni Guidelli as Tenente Tommassini
 Raoul Bova as Conte Filippo Gaggia
 Bruno Wolkowitch as Capitaine Courson
 Marc Ruchmann as Brigadier Kaiser
 Julien Baumgartner as Brigadier Ricuort
 François Vincentelli as Brigadier Marion
 Clément Sibony as Brigadier Rousseau
 Jean-Claude Adelin as Brigadier Cavillan
 Jean-Marie Lamour as Cafe Waiter Jean-Michel
 Nicolas Guillot as Cafe Head Waiter Jérôme
 Mhamed Arezki as Courier Achmed Tchebali
 Igor Jijikine as Virginsky
 Vladimir Orlov as Lebyadkin
 Vladimir Tevlovski as Liputin
 Alec Utgoff as Fedka
 Mark Zak as Shigalyov

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