DVD Release Date: March 22, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: December 10, 2010
Rating: PG-13 (for violence and brief strong language)
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Remake
Run Time: 104 min.
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Actors: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rufus Sewell, Steven Berkoff, Timothy Dalton

The credits of those who made The Tourist are impressive. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck directed The Lives of Others, one of the best films of the past decade. Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes wrote The Usual Suspects and Gosford Park, respectively. With credentials like those, expectations are high for The Tourist, an adaptation of French film Anthony Zimmer that brings together the director and screenwriters with two of Hollywood's hottest stars, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.

The final product is middling. It's not a trial to watch, what with its lush imagery its beautiful stars and the Venice locations. But as a romantic thriller, it lacks chemistry and suspense. That all spells failure, despite a few moments of fun. If only the film had caught fire and sizzled onscreen instead of assuming we'll be satisfied by watching two attractive stars on the big screen. If they look good enough up there, maybe we'll forgive the film's other shortcomings. Or maybe we'll leave the theater feeling let down. That's the risk a movie like The Tourist takes. Its pleasures are slight—very slight—while its cast and crew have shown in their earlier work that they can deliver higher-caliber, more memorable stories.

Elise Ward (Jolie) is a Brit who's under surveillance by a team of agents led by Inspector Acheson (Paul Bettany) and Chief Inspector Jones (Timothy Dalton). Every time Elise leaves behind a cup of coffee at a restaurant, a team of agents descends and snatches the receptacle. Men who take a step toward her in a public space are quickly intercepted by someone on Acheson's team.

Frank Tupelo (Depp), an American math teacher traveling through Europe, is Elise's latest mark. Following written instructions from Alexander, her unseen significant other, Elise chats up Frank and invites him to join her during a stay in Venice. The details of why begin to emerge. Alexander stands accused of stealing a fortune, and a remorseless killer (Steven Berkoff) wants the money back. Those following Elise hope to use her as leverage to bring Alexander out of hiding.

The film takes its time bringing the characters together for a high-stakes showdown in which secrets are revealed and mysteries resolved. Depp and Jolie try to convince us that they're falling for each other, but we never buy them as a couple, even after we're told that Elise tends to fall for any man with whom she spends more than a few minutes. It's much easier to believe that Frank would quickly fall for the icy beauty played by Jolie, who looks gorgeous throughout The Tourist. Depp, on the other hand, looks as though he's just rolled out of bed, with unkempt hair and clothing.

Considering what might have been expected of a big-budget romance featuring two top stars, The Tourist is rather slight. The lead characters' banter starts with promise, but the film shortchanges the romance as it struggles to incorporate its espionage and gangster storylines.

The Tourist is a trifle. If you go, enjoy the sights, but know that the things the movie offers beyond lovely location photography are lacking.