It seems to have all the right elements aligned: two mega-watt stars, a gorgeous location, and an Oscar-winning director whose last film, 2006’s The Lives of Others, was a tense, meaty, humane drama. Add a mistaken identity plot and The Tourist should feel like a light-hearted romp. The truth is that the final product is resoundingly dim and dull is deeply disappointing. All that Hollywood glamour and this is the best they could come up with? The movie is too mechanical, joyless, without much in the way of pacing or a pulse, and the direction feels like a languid tourist trip itself, placidly soaking up the scenery and waiting for a plot to shamble into frame. The action sequences are bereft of tension. Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp have too few scenes together, too mild a sexual tension, and sleepwalk through their performances. Depp could easily have been replaced by any actor. You’ll see the twists telegraphed a mile away, but by that time your eyes will have already glazed over thanks to the dead weight of a script credited to THREE Oscar-winning screenwriters. With this much talent behind and in front of the camera, I expected a lot more than a sluggish, bland, hermetic thriller that would more like to get lost in scenery than quicken a pulse. The Tourist feels like it needs a map just to know what it’s doing, and the finished product deserves a one-way ticket to the bargain bin.
Nate’s Grade: C-
Is there a more tired and pathetic genre of filmmaking than that of the erotic thriller? Deception is just about as lazy and bland as its title. The casting director got every role wrong. Ewan McGregor is an accounting nerd that befriends a swanky playboy (Hugh Jackman) and they accidentally switch phones. Of course this leads to people mistaking an accounting nerd for a swanky playboy, and McGregor is introduced to an underground web of anonymous sex (hasn’t anyone heard about Craig’s list?). I suppose the rich would rather take a chance on a stranger than have their handlers recruit some tail. Michelle Williams is completely wrong as the femme fatale who OF COURSE is in on the scheme. Deception plays out exactly as you could predict, and it even bears a somewhat strong resemblance to 2005’s Derailed, another mediocre thriller of little thrills. The chilly cinematography by Dante Spinotti is way too good for this kind of film. It seems that erotic thrillers have graduated from soft focus close-ups of copulating couples set to saxophone music to soft focus close-ups of copulating couples set to electronica beats. I suppose that’s progress for a genre defined by ridiculous plots, unrealistic characters acting like idiots, and, oh yeah, boobs.
Nate’s Grade: C