The Tourist: A RomCom in disguise

After the series of successful action/adventure flicks starred in by both Angelina Jolie (Wanted) and Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Carribean), I was expecting The Tourist to be a hard core suspense-action-spy thriller in the tradition of Salt. What took me completely by surprise was the love story and comedy factor of the movie, and I mean it in a completely positive way.

The biggest problem for me about the movie was the casting. Everytime people look at Angelina Jolie, they identify her with Fox or Agent Salt, and Johnny Depp — Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka, The Mad Hatter, Sweeney Todd… should I even go on? See, the problem is that when these two made movies, they made people remember them for who they were. They played their parts so well, so kick ass, that they set the bar higher for themselves with each upcoming film.

So what did the director do different? Simple, take away the elements that made people associate them with their roles. Set these actors up in a new stage, a new environment, and make them do basically the opposite of what the audience would expect.

The Tourist is a testament to the acting skills of both Jolie, who plays Elise, a mysterious woman involved with a clever white collar thief wanted by Scotland Yard for 700 million pounds in back taxes, and stealing over $ 2 billion from a mob boss — and Johnny Depp, who has, for this movie, chosen to take on the role of an awkward American Math professor Frank Tupelo who had the misfortune to meet Jolie’s Elise on a train ride to Venice and get mistaken for her criminal lover. And because they slip into their roles like second skin, by the time the director finished with his establishing scenes (which was a bit longer than usual), they take the audience with them on this new adventure, and sell this new idea. Again.

There was action in this movie, and there was suspense, but it was not as hard core as either of the stars’ previous offerings. As a small comfort, there were boat chases (they are in Venice after all), mob hits (there had to be someone other than the police chasing after the Math teacher), and double crosses, as was expected in the beginning. The cinematography must have been excellent or else I would not have found myself wanting to pack up and go to Europe the minute the movie ended.

However, the best thing about the movie was its ability to see humor in the direst of circumstance, presented to the audience in the form of witty dialogue, and musical scoring more fit for an Alfred Hitchcock thriller or a 70’s comedy, injected in the scenes that would, to some, call for more urgent musical background. This, I think made the scenes more entertaining for the audience and provided a break for them while they try to figure out the good guys from the villains.

The movie, in keeping with today’s trends had a lot of twists. While audiences would think that they have cracked the mystery at some point, they will find themselves, second guessing and third guessing before the movie is over and the plot is finally revealed. While I am a bit disappointed that Paul Bettany who played Scotland Yard Inspector John Acheson, was underutilized in this film, I couldn’t say the direction could have been better. It was a Jolie/Depp movie, pure and simple. And put on a show, they did. I had loads of fun while watching it.

This movie was shown in the US in December 2010 and in the Philippines a couple of months ago, but if you haven’t caught the movie and DVD, I don’t know what the heck you’re waiting for. Enjoy figuring out who Alexander Piers is. I don’t even know if I spelled it right. 🙂