The Tourist - Online Review

'where Indiana Jones watched speedboats get crushed at a rate of knots, Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) merely watches the handrail fall off one'

Far from being the travesty it was proclaimed to be upon its release, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Tourist is merely one of those films that suffers from being a little bit dull. The German director's script, co-penned with Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes, never fires or ignites substantially, the action is minimal and badly-directed and the intrigue barely palpable. It is exactly what you would imagine happens when the writer of the slow and purposeful Downton Abbey (Fellowes) tries his hand at an espionage script.

Accusing a film with two big stars in it of spending all of its money on them is hardly solid accounting practice but the look of The Tourist suggests this to be the case. Several scenes in Venice, where much of the film takes place, appear to be propped up by ropey cosmetic CGI and the action, when it does make an appearance, is limited to only mildly destructive scratches. Where Indiana Jones watched speedboats get crushed at a rate of knots, Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) merely watches the handrail fall off one.

Depp and co-star Angelina Jolie seem to suffer from the weight of the malaise the script must have induced. Both under-perform and under-act. Depp, reticent and unconvincing as a mathematics teacher, comes off by the far the worst whilst Jolie, lacking the intangible twinkle in her eye that characterises so many of her roles, fares little better.

Instead, the twinkling of eyes is left to Paul Bettany's Inspector Acheson and his superior (Timothy Dalton), whilst a near-silent cameo from Rufus Sewell is handled exactly as cameos of this nature should be. Dalton, who plays the forgiving role of a character only there because the plot needs advancing a step or two, could (and should) do this sort of thing on a regular basis.

The song playing over the end credits is from Muse's Black Holes And Revelations although a suggested lyrical change for the film would see the word 'Black' replaced with 'Plot' and the final word with 'Limitations', a messy and unsatisfying ending ensuring the dullness pervades throughout.

The Tourist was showing on Sky Movies Anytime and Sky Go for users with an appropriate subscription.

Look further...

A live blog of the experience of watching The Tourist over at Sick List.


  1. I myself actually did enjoy watching Jolie and Depp roam around the beautiful sights of Venice. Good review.

  2. Here's my thing with "The Tourist" - upon the discovery of the "twist" I think it makes sense that Depp's portrayal would be so unconvincing because who he is would have no idea how to actually act like a mathematics teacher.

    Which is still problematic, of course, because that very detail would lead it to being, as you say, dull. Sort of a lose-lose situation.

  3. Venice is my favourite city in the world but even that didn't encourage me to watch The Tourist . It's even more unlikely after reading this. Enjoyed the review.

  4. It's a shame that this movie is so lackluster. I haven't seen it, but I have been mildly curious since it is set in Venice. Don't think I can be bothered, though. Nice review.

  5. Dan - glad you got more out of it than I!

    Nick - Indeed, what you're saying definitely makes sense but yes, watching Depp pretend to be someone less interesting than he actually is does not a good movie recipe make.

    John - There's little of Venice here to ogle over to be honest and a lot of it looks needlessly propped up by the CGI. I'm sure there must be better examples of the city on film - wise of you to stay away I think.

    Eric - As above, there's definitely better out there with a Venice setting than this. Does little with a fantastic location.

  6. i actually loved the tourist and johnny depp of course...