Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) is a drop-dead gorgeous creature from England who doesn’t have a British accent, but does have a sexy walk that makes every man within pheromone radius start salivating. While all the other people in Venice are wearing heavy duty winter coats and boots, Elise saunters down the cobblestone streets to her favorite outdoor café wearing silk gloves, a flimsy shawl, and take-your-life in-each-step high heels. Oh yes, and that clingy dress with the ridiculous come-hither scarf hanging down the back as if she is a vixen in heat.
Every move Elise makes is monitored by a van full of intense British cops and transmitted back to the London Police Department where super-anxious Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany) is eager for instantaneous updates. They all go nuts when a courier delivers a note to Elise and she disappears in the crowd and heads for the train station. Not only is this a woman who knows how to make an entrance but she’s very good at exits as well.
In the note was directions from her bad boy lover, Alexander, who in addition to stealing billions from a really bad Englishman who surrounds himself with broad-shouldered Russians, has also stolen over half a million from the English government–which is why Inspect or Acheson and his boss Chief Inspector Jones (Timothy Dalton) really want to find Alexander–and they rightly figure that the only way to find him is through his extraordinary girlfriend, Elise.
Following the directions in the note, Elise enters the train and looks for a man who has the same height and build as Alexander. This patsy will lead the police away from the real Alexander, Elise thinks.
To no one’s surprise but his, Wisconsin math teacher Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) is spotted by Elise and she proceeds to dazzle him. Not just with flirtatious repartee, but with a breezy ride on her cabin cruiser and then an invitation to stay in her elegant hotel room. Of course he’s dying with lust for her, but she coquettishly points him to the sofa where he spends a restless night full of dreams of kissing her.
And so it goes. The cops and the bad guys are after Frank, thinking he’s Alexander, so he runs over rooftops, lands in a canal, ends up in the pokey where no one believes him and on and on. Meanwhile we find out who Elise really is and she’s off and running, too. Endless chasing which gives us plenty of nice shots of Venice (thanks to cinematographer John Seale who also shot Cold Mountain). There are more mysterious letters–even a mysterious Englishman that everyone but the bad guys assumes is Alexander (Rufus Sewell). Oh yes, and lots of fantastic jewelry and elegant gowns on Angelina. But she never really looks good in the long wig she wears and poor Frank, he continues to sport the dorky hair cut he started the adventure with.
Eventually you realize that even in romantic Venice, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp are not making any believable sparks with one another (notice the family friendly PG-13 rating). And the whole movie isn’t doing anything to warm up the audience either. Despite the fact that it was directed by the same talented man who helmed the extraordinary East German film, The Lives of Others (that won an Oscar in 2007), The Tourist seems to fall dead in the water. Too big a budget, stars that don’t sizzle, bad hair, a script that could have used a dialogue re-write–see The Tourist when it comes out on DVD and enjoy the scenery.