To my delight, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. There was no graphic violence, no pervasive bad language, and no sex. It was a good old-fashioned caper movie in the best sense of the word, reminiscent of late '50s and early '60s films like NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) and CHARADE (1963). The movie featured charismatic stars, lush photography and scoring, and a nice plot twist or two. And, as advertised, Venice and Miss Jolie were beautiful.
Mysterious Elise Ward (Jolie) takes a train from Paris to Venice, tailed by Scotland Yard, Interpol, and more nefarious types. On the train Elise strikes up an acquaintance with American tourist Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp), who resembles Elise's previous lover, Alexander Pierce.
Mafioso Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff) wants to reclaim millions Pierce stole from him, while Scotland Yard wants Pierce for back taxes. Both the good guys and the bad guys hope Elise will lead them to Pierce, while the baffled Frank -- who is increasingly attracted to Elise -- ends up in the middle of a very dangerous chase.
I found this film great fun. Jolie has screen presence to spare, and while I was dubious of Depp's scruffy, mild-mannered character when I saw the trailer, he comes off very well too. Jolie's glam wardrobe and hair call to mind beautiful actresses of the past such as Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn. I didn't see the plot twists coming and thought they were fun, and it's a movie I'll definitely be watching again.
Sometimes reviewers seem to take pleasant but fairly average films -- BOTTLE SHOCK (2008) and (500) DAYS OF SUMMER (2009) come to mind -- and build them up unreasonably as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Conversely, sometimes the same critics seem to expect every film to be Oscar-worthy, looking down on enjoyable entertainment like LEAP YEAR (2010). The latter seems to have been the case with THE TOURIST.
As far as I'm concerned, what's not to like? I spent a very pleasant holiday week afternoon at the movies. I'm looking forward to taking a fresh look at it on DVD with the knowledge gained from late plot developments.
Parental advisory: This film is rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language. There is one notable death but it's not bloody and probably not anything worse than was ever shown in a '60s Sean Connery 007 movie. Compared to many recent films, the language was almost unnoticeable.
This film was directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. It runs 103 minutes. The supporting cast includes Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton as two members of the force from Scotland Yard; having a former 007 in the cast was a nice touch.
A trailer can be seen at IMDb.
Tom of Motion Picture Gems and The Movie Goddess are fellow bloggers who also liked the film.