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The Tourist DVD Review

The Tourist (2010) movie poster The Tourist

Theatrical Release: December 10, 2010 / Running Time: 103 Minutes / Rating: PG-13 / Songs List

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck / Writers: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, Julian Fellowes (screenplay); Jιrτme Salle (motion picture Anthony Zimmer)

Cast: Johnny Depp (Frank Thomas Tupelo), Angelina Jolie (Elise Clifton-Ward), Paul Bettany (Inspector John Acheson), Timothy Dalton (Chief Inspector Jones), Steven Berkoff (Reginald Shaw), Rufus Sewell (The Englishman), Christian De Sica (Colonello Lombardi), Alessio Boni (Sergente Cerato), Raoul Bova (Conte Filippo Gaggia), Danielle Pecci (Tenente Narduzzi), Giovanni Guidelli (Tenente Tommassini)

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2010 was the year of romantic, comedic action pairings. None seemed to boast as much movie star power as The Tourist, teaming Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Perhaps movie stars are overvalued, though,
because at the box office, Depp-Jolie barely beat the combo of Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler (The Bounty Hunter) and trailed Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz's underperforming Knight and Day as well as Steve Carell and Tina Fey's Date Night.

Underattended and critically thrashed, The Tourist was an easy target for Ricky Gervais to ridicule at the Golden Globes, where it was inexplicably nominated in the Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) category. The unlikely sophomore feature of The Lives of Others writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who shares screenplay credit with Oscar-winning The Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie and costume drama buff Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, The Young Victoria), The Tourist remakes the little-known 2005 French film Anthony Zimmer.

The authorities are closely monitoring every move of Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie), but why? Unused to luxury, American schoolteacher Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) enjoys the view from an upscale Venetian hotel suite.

Depp plays Frank Tupelo, an unassuming American math teacher traveling abroad on his own. Jolie is the glamorous British femme fatale Elise Clifton-Ward, who is being closely watched by her nation's authorities. Elise, it seems, is the accomplice to the man Interpol is really after. In the film's Parisian opening, she gets a couriered message launching the plot. She is to board a train bound for Venice and find a man of similar height and weight to her elusive fugitive beau, the much-sought Alexander Pearce.

Elise chooses Frank as the decoy, grabbing and holding his attention on the train, while setting him up as a diversion to Scotland Yard's team of detectives, led by the dutiful but ineffective Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany). The authorities soon recognize the misdirect when Frank's photo matches the one on his Wisconsin driver's license. Less well informed are big-time British gangster Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff) and his hired Russian hitmen. Shaw is also pursuing Pearce, who recently stole billions of dollars from him. Convinced that Frank is the thief with a surgically-altered appearance, Shaw takes action.

Bullets start to fly, the Italian police doubt the facts, and Frank finds himself in the middle of international intrigue, utterly unprepared for the heroics required of him. Coming to his assistance from time to time is Elise, her motives questionable but her manner seemingly sincere. She too finds herself having to make narrow escapes, albeit with more experience in that kind of derring-do.

Dedicated to nabbing Alexander Pearce, British agent John Acheson (Paul Bettany) is desperate for a breakthrough. Vengeful gangster Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff) wants his money back and will go to great lengths to get it.

The Tourist is generic filmmaking, devout in its belief that sending two marquee names to Europe for chases and some laughs is a surefire recipe for large returns and satisfied audiences. If the film had done strong business in the United States, it might have been right, because the overseas numbers (nearly $200 million and counting) are quite formidable and better than every other one of last year's action romcoms. In terms of quality, The Tourist seems pretty comparable to its contemporaries. It is more worldly and old-fashioned than the competition.
Despite the Golden Globes' classification, the comedy is peripheral and never broad. The plot is serviceable and relatively engaging, the action restrained and adequately staged.

But the movie is never very good, nowhere near as good as the involvement of its German helmer and his screenplay predecessors might indicate, not as good as you'd expect from two of the world's biggest movie stars (as spotty as their records are), and not good enough for studios to spend $100 million on.

Depp supplies some light humor as the grungy widower in way over his head, even if you don't buy him as a schoolteacher and his American accent feels unnatural after all the strange voices he's adopted. Jolie pulls off her English accent capably enough, but her humorless character is underwritten and too easily smitten with Depp. Their chemistry together is passable but, despite the film's efforts, you're never rooting for them to get together. At best, you're mildly curious as to how the film might sell that mismatched couple. It does so with a foreseeable twist that robs most of the film's meaning and leaves you unsatisfied. This is not a movie that has high regard for viewer intelligence and that is a fundamental flaw in a thriller.

Three and a half months after its theatrical debut, Sony brings The Tourist to DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray + DVD on Tuesday. We review the first of those here.

The Tourist DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French), Dolby Surround (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Captioned and Subtitled in English
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $28.95
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($34.95 SRP), in Blu-ray + DVD ($38.96 SRP)
and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Tourist looks excellent on DVD. The 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer shows off the famous movie stars and European locales with flawlessly sharp and clear picture. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also pretty stellar, enveloping with some action and never becoming overbearing or drowning out the crisp dialogue with either effects or James Newton Howard's prominent score.

6-foot-9 German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck towers over 5'8" Angelina Jolie and everyone else on set in "Bringing Glamour Back." Animated renderings of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp accompany Timothy Dalton's credit in the inexplicably unused alternate closing titles.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Extras begin with an audio commentary by writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who despite his name speaks with almost no discernible German accent. He keeps the track casual and observational, going off on tangents to discuss other movies but mostly staying on point to talk about what went into what's onscreen.
Speaking to aspiring filmmakers, he is overly enamored with the film and a bit of a name dropper. Still, it's not the world's worst listen, and at least his discussion of trying to keep a PG-13 rating (in which his utterances of the F-word are repeatedly bleeped) amuses.

The featurette "A Gala Affair" (7:10) focuses on the lavish Venetian ball depicted briefly in the film, talking about the set, costumes, extras, dancers, and scoring. Unless you worked on the sequence, I can't see you caring about any of this.

"Bringing Glamour Back" (9:08) starts with everyone sharing their love for the film, eventually morphing into a discussion of the European filming locations, production design, two stars, and score. Like the film itself, it's fast-paced, upbeat, and forgettable.

An "Alternate Animated Title Sequence" (2:14) is what it sounds like, supplying the film's top pre-scroll credits with some stylish animated renderings of the film's characters and themes. I have no idea why these would be completed and then dropped in favor of the plain white text on black screens used.

Paul Bettany cracks up Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp with his deadpan wit in this interview outtake. The DVD's main menu applies photographic effects to scenes from the movie, even when characters aren't being monitored. It's just cool like dat.

The DVD's extras conclude with an Outtake Reel (1:25), which includes a few botched stunts and more celebrity giggles, even extending to a Bettany, Jolie, and Depp interview promoting the film.

Kept exclusive to the Blu-ray disc on its own and in the combo pack are movieIQ and the featurettes "Action in Venice", "Canal Chats", and "Tourist Destination: Travel the Canals of Venice." It should be noted that the DVD-9 clocks in about 2 GB under dual-layered capacity so the featurettes easily could have fit here. Of course, if they're only as good as the two that made the DVD, who will miss them?

And that steamy shower sex scene that tabloids ludicrously claimed was cut at the request of Depp's longtime partner Vanessa Paradis? It is nowhere to be found on DVD or Blu-ray, assuming it was truly shot and deleted (which seems doubtful).

The disc opens with an anti-tobacco spot (a rarity for Sony but sort of relevant here), promos for make.believe and The Film Foundation restoration, and trailers for Soul Surfer, How Do You Know, and Inside Job. The Previews menu offers individual access to the trailers, adding one for Country Strong.

Reflecting the film's generic design, the main menu strings together scenes of the stars with surveillance photo shutters and snaps, many of which don't make sense. All other pages are silent and static. An in-case insert promotes 3D and Sony's make.believe mantra.

"The Tourist" may not realize its Hitchockian ambitions, but it does feature some strangers on a train (Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

It's easy to imagine the kind of hyperbole that would be used to advertise The Tourist had it be been made in the 1960s. A-list stars, mistaken identity, chases, twists, Italy... just think of all the exclamation marks.
Though it is a throwback in theory, this movie plays to modern sensibilities, throwing money and talent at the screen and hoping that an exciting, attractive experience emerges. The result isn't as bad as the low approval ratings might lead you to believe. The Tourist is diverting enough and rarely painful. But it is still a formulaic thriller executed unexceptionally and with decades to go before nostalgia can help it. If a Johnny Depp-Angelina Jolie coupling against a backdrop of intelligence officers, crooks, and thieves sounds like something you need to see, then by all means see it. At the same time, you can skip the film, knowing it plays out just as you suspect and possibly fear.

Sony's DVD offers a dazzling feature presentation and a fairly disposable collection of extras. This is a one-time viewing you needn't be in a hurry to take in.

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Related Reviews:
New: The Switch • Hereafter • The Fighter • How Do You Know • 127 Hours • Who Do You Think You Are?: Season 1 • Burlesque
Action Romance Comedies: Knight and Day • Date Night • North by Northwest • The Bounty Hunter • Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Johnny Depp: Alice in Wonderland (2010) • Pirates of the Caribbean • Finding Neverland • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Angelina Jolie: Salt (Deluxe Unrated Editon) • Beowulf (Director's Cut) • Kung Fu Panda | Paul Bettany: Inkheart • Iron Man

Music Featured in The Tourist: "Cat's Pyjamas", Katie Melua - "No Fear of Heights", "Dance in F", Muse - "Starlight"

The Tourist Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Music by James Newton Howard:
Download from iTunes • Download MP3s from Amazon.com • Buy CD from Amazon.com

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Reviewed March 17, 2011.



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