The Tourist (Blu-ray)(Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 3.22.2011)
In 2010, critics undervalued several moderately entertaining genre films, including Knight and Day, RED and Salt. Before seeing The Tourist, I suspected that it was also treated unfairly. Could a Hitchockian thriller directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck -- whose The Lives of Others is arguably one of the best films of the last decade -- and co-written by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) and von Donnersmarck really be as bad as it's reputed to be? More lifeless than bad, the film takes two of the world's most glamorous movie stars (Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp), drops them in Paris and Venice and gives them a convoluted reversal-of-identities plot to play around in. Unfortunately, not much happens.
This is supposed to be romantic fun in the tradition of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and Stanley Donen’s Charade, but it’s sluggishly paced and missing any real sense of fun. Not only is there no spark between Jolie and the seemingly uncomfortable Depp, but von Donnersmarck lacks the necessary light touch, instead bringing a leaden seriousness to his wisp of a plot. A speedboat chase through the Venice canals and a climactic scene in which everything becomes clear are fairly well executed. However, any half-alert viewer will guess the surprise revelation much earlier.
In his commentary, von Donnersmarck tries too hard to rev up some enthusiasm: as far as he's concerned, all the actors are wonderful and all the scenery is beautiful. When discussing CGI, the director seems as delighted as a boy with a new toy. Of the remaining six extras, the best is Bringing Glamour Back, particularly when it focuses on Colleen Atwood’s costumes and James Newton Howard’s (John Barry-esque) score. -- Michael Adams