• Tourist, The

    Released by: Sony Home Entertainment
    Released on: 3/22/2011
    Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
    Cast: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, Steven Berkoff, Timothy Dalton
    Year: 2010
    Purchase from Amazon

    The Movie:

    Elise (Angelina Jolie) is a glamorous woman being followed by Scotland Yard, in the hopes she will lead them to the mysterious and elusive international thief named Alexander Pierce (or is it Pearce?). She receives a note from “AP” and he tells her to get on a train and find someone who seems similar in build and facial structure to him and make it seem like it is in fact him to get the police off the trail. She finds such a person in an unsuspecting and a bit bumbling Frank (Johnny Depp), a tourist on his way to Venice to escape the trials and tribulations of being a math teacher from Wisconsin. The cops realize their mistake, that this is NOT the man they are looking for, but a mole in the police department doesn’t quite get that information and sends info saying it IS the man to a big crime lord. Shaw (Steven Berkoff) used Pierce as a banker and Pierce stole a couple of billion dollars from him and he wants it back. So the cops know Frank is the wrong guy, but the gangsters think he’s the right guy. Just crazy.

    As one might guess Frank and Elise fall for each other. She is trying to get him out of the game and he is trying to win her over so they can be together forever. No, Frank! It just can’t work! Will the real Alexander Pierce please stand up? Will he reveal himself in the nick of time? Will he be apprehended by the police or torn to bits by the criminals? Will anyone with half a brain figure it out before the first 30 minutes go by? Yes. It’s as predictable as what happens after the food digests in your belly.

    Shot on location in Venice, the scenery is amazing and very well photographed. That’s about the only thing going for this movie. Well, the acting is of high caliber too, but the characters are boring and the whole thing is really a waste of talent. Steven Berkoff’s portrayal of the bad guy is probably the most interesting character, but even so there’s nothing wonderful at that one either. And where the hell is Timothy Dalton? Criminally underused, practically UNused, he’s in this for all of about five minutes. There’re some action sequences that are well done, but nothing fantastic. And aside from the story being tired and elementary to figure out, it’s main focus is the romance. Phooey. Add to that the most annoying film score you can imagine that NEVER seems to stop and you’ve got one hundred and five minutes of pain.


    Sony brings The Tourist to Blu-ray with a 1080p high-definition, AVC encoded picture, with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. It looks fantastic. Beautiful and vibrant colors, and a wonderfully clear picture which will practically sweep you away to Venice (in the middle of a crap movie however). For those who’ve never been there, present party included, one can imagine it’s as close as one can get to be there without actually going. Black levels are nice a deep, the whites are brilliant. No artifacts to report, nor any other issues.

    The audio is on the same shelf as the video. The disc uses 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound and it really uses all the speakers. Train noises, café noise, boats, and that frigging annoying score all sound amazingly clear and rich. The disc makes great use of the technology and the sounds fill the room.

    The extras are plentiful, for those who can’t get enough agony from the feature. First thing is a director’s commentary. It’s informative, but very dry and slow. A few more voices would have helped it immensely. There are a number of featurettes, mostly void of ass kissing and filler, which is actually surprising. This film seems like the type that would simply say how wonderful and giving all the actors were, etc. But it stays away from that for the most part. “Canal Chat” (6:01) has people talking about filming in Venice. “A Gala Affair” (7:12) has them talking about the big ball sequence. “Action in Venice” (6:29) discusses the big boat action scene. “Bringing Glamour Back” (9:08) talks about the visual aspect of the movie. “Tourist Destiniation- Travel the Canals of Venice” (3:17) is just what is sounds to be. There’s also an “Alternate Animated Title Sequence” (2:14) and an “Outtake Reel” (1:26) which, as they usually are, is a waste of time. This one may well be the worst outtake reel in the history of outtake reels. Somewhere in these featurettes, someone describes the movie to be “Hitchcockian”. If Alfred Hitchcock were alive to hear this movie compared to any of his, he would hopefully take a dump in a box, mail it to the director, and include a note that said “This is about as Hitchcockian as your movie gets.” At any rate, there are plenty of extras for the movie, but if you dug the film you’ll probably never even look at the extras. Included with the Blu-ray is a DVD copy and a Digital copy so you can take this great piece of cinematic tripe anywhere you go.

    The Final Word:

    Stupid movie, appealing to the eyes, a good deal of extras. It’s a good value for the money, but take this advice: if your significant other wants to watch this with you, make sure you agree in advance on what you’ll get in return. And make sure your reward will be worth it.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. JoeS's Avatar
      JoeS -
      THE TOURIST (2010) First time watch. Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (oh, yeah, I copy/pasted that!) has made two of my very favorite movies over the past dozen years with LIVES OF OTHERS and last year's NEVER LOOK AWAY (each a Best Foreign Language Film nominee; LIVES won).
      Using his cache after LIVES, FHD got to cash in with this splashy big budget studio caper flick pairing up with big stars like Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. $100M budget. Shooting primarily in Venice. Who could blame him?
      The movie bombed with critics (11% with Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes). It did OK at the box office based on star power ($76M adjusted), and, infamously, got nominated for 3 Golden Globes including Best Comedy (the stars were also nominated). It's become a running joke about how inconsequential the Globes are.
      Because of all that, I skipped it. But, because FHD has made those two great movies, I figured I should give it a look: No wonder FHD didn't make a movie for 8 years in between!
      THE TOURIST wants to be a fun Hitchcockian thriller with some Spy action and a romantic comedy on top. Just goes to show you how difficult it is to pull off. FHD worked on the script with Julian Fellows (Downton Abbey) and Christopher McQuarrie (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE #'s 5 & 6) - combined, they couldn't solve this tangle (it's based on a French film and notoriously went through several drafts, actor and director changes).
      It's one of those movies where the tone is off from the beginning. The twists that come later make no sense in retrospect. Even worse, it treats the audience with contempt, constantly pulling the rug out from them, all the while winking in glee as it does so. The characters all seem aware that they are in a film. Stuff is said and done for the camera for no other purpose than to deceive the viewer. For the twists to have worked, the viewer has to have built up sympathy for the characters and the situations. THE TOURIST does little of that, trying to coast on the charms of the lead actors.
      Oh, well. It does look pretty (John Seale shot it on 35mm and make Venice look fabulous). I'm sure that FHD, the cast & crew all had fun.
      I guess the one good thing that came out of this is that it forced FHD to re-evaluate the kinds of movies he really wanted to make. That process led to one of last year's finest movies in NEVER LOOK AWAY. Let's hope he can look away next time Hollywood dangles a pile of cash under his nose.