Point across: ‘The Tourist’ had potential but fails big

Published 12:03 pm Saturday, December 18, 2010

When Randy Moss was traded to the Minnesota Vikings after the fourth week of the 2010 NFL season, a lot of Vikings fans were pretty optimistic about the remainder of the year. Then, out of nowhere, it ended – Moss was waived and fans were never really given a good explanation why (one they liked, anyway).

“The Tourist,” which stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp and opened last weekend, had a lot of potential, too. It started strong and showed signs of hope. It was pretty entertaining for awhile. But in the end, you’re asking yourself, “What the heck just happened?”

In this analogy, Moss is “The Tourist” (I think that may be a good nickname for him as of late), which would make former Vikings head coach Brad Childress the writer and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf the director, both of whom are Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck in this scenario (I guess the director/writer setup explains how this adapted screenplay got off the ground). So while it was funny at times, it definitely wasn’t the blockbuster it was made out to be.

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“The Tourist” starts with Elise Clifton-Ward (Jolie) in Paris under surveillance by International Police detectives, namely, Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany). Acheson is looking for Clifton-Ward’s lover, Alexander Pierce, who stole two billion pounds from gangster Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff). We join the adventure just as Pierce has made contact with Clifton-Ward for the first time in two years. In a letter delivered by a carrier, Clifton-Ward is instructed to board a train to Venice, Italy, and pick someone on board with similar physical characteristics to dupe the police. Clifton-Ward picks Frank Tupelo (Depp), an American tourist, and the two begin their cat-and-mouse game with Acheson and Shaw.

That part of the film worked (at an entertainment level, at least). Depp is great at playing that quirky, stumbling role, which contrasts well with Jolie as the femme fatale.

“You’re ravenous,” Tupelo says to Clifton-Ward at one point.

“Do you mean ‘ravishing?’”

“I do.”

The tongue-in-cheek mocking of action flicks works at points, too, (if that was the intention) as Clifton-Ward and the bumbling Tupelo evade the police and Shaw, who is a subtle spoof of the James Bond-esque villains. (Ironically, ex-Bond Timothy Dalton has a small role as Chief Inspector Jones.)

But if you try to make sense of anything that has to do with the storyline, good luck. You can give a little leniency to this type of film, but the plot twists – and the absurd ending – make everything that has happened up to that point illogical.

Looking forward to…

TRON: Legacy in Disney 3D,” which I talked about last week, opens Friday. It’s a sequel to the 1982 film “TRON” and features Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner, both back from the original. Chances are, if you are anticipating this one, there’s nothing new to tell you.

Yogi Bear,” starring Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake, Anna Faris, also opens this weekend. While it’s not in 3D in Albert Lea, this Warner Bros. adaption could still be a “pic-a-nic.” Sorry for that.

Also opening at CEC – Cinema 7 in Albert Lea on Friday is “How Do You Know,” starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson. It is directed and written by James L. Brooks, an executive producer and developer of “The Simpsons” and director/writer of films such as “As Good As It Gets” and “Terms of Endearment.”

Herald Audience Manager Adam Harringa’s column appears every Sunday.