If there was any doubt that Angelina Jolie is the most exquisite woman on the screen today and that Venice is the movie photogenic city in the world, “The Tourist” dispels it.
Jolie plays Elise Clifton Ward, a mysterious ‘target’ who’s under constant surveillance by various law enforcement agents, including Inspector Acheson (Paul Bettany) and Chief Inspector Jones (Timothy Dalton) of Scotland Yard, as she’s pursued by Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff), a ruthless Russian gangster, and his henchmen. Actually, they’re not after her. They’re searching for an elusive thief known as Alexander Peirce. And Elise is known to be madly in love with him. When Elise receives a courier-delivered envelope from Peirce while having breakfast at her favorite Parisian café, she immediately takes off for the Gard du Nord, followed by a phalanx of ‘spies.’ Following specific instructions en route to Venice, she seductively picks up a stranger, Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp), a mild-mannered math teacher from Wisconsin, because he’s roughly the same height and physical build as Peirce. Dinner leads to an impulsive kiss, followed by complications, including Frank’s spending a night in sultry Elise’s sumptuous suite at the Danieli on the Grand Canal. By this time, both cops and the crooks are convinced that gullible Frank Tupelo is their secretive swindler – and the chase is on.
With her glamorous, retro wardrobe and sparkling jewels, Jolie is dazzling and Depp does his quirky, charming best to keep up with her stellar wattage but he’s cast as an ‘average guy,’ a perfect patsy, and there is no rapport between them. Based on “Anthony Zimmer,” a 2005 French film, and adapted by director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (who won an Oscar for his German film “The Lives of Others”) with Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes, this mistaken identity thriller is so formulaic and flimsy that it flounders instead of sizzles.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Tourist” is a spectacularly scenic 6, but don’t expect much more than a frothy diversion, courtesy of cinematographer John Seale (“The English Patient”).