If you’re nostalgic for the kind of glossy romantic thrillers that Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn made in their prime, you’ll probably make a beeline for The Tourist in which Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie do their best to emulate their predecessors’ insouciance and glamour.
Echoing Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, the plot of The Tourist finds Depp’s innocent everyman swept up into a world of excitement and danger after encountering a mysterious woman on a train. Rather than Grant’s dapper Madison Avenue executive, however, Depp’s Frank Tupelo is a mild and unassuming maths teacher from Wisconsin who finds himself picked out from his fellow passengers on a Paris to Venice train by Jolie’s enigmatic Elise.
She’s the lover of a fugitive thief named Alexander Pearce, who has stolen billions from a gangster (Steven Berkoff) and attracted the dogged attentions of an exasperated Scotland Yard inspector (Paul Bettany). Cops and crooks quickly come to the decision that Frank is Pearce, with predictably perilous consequences all round.
The Tourist certainly looks fabulous – as befits the setting, the stars and the gorgeous costumes by three-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood. The trouble is that Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s movie is far too elegant to break into a sweat. The nearest the film comes to a chase takes place on Venice’s canals, where the boats don’t travel much faster than walking pace. The viewer’s pulse doesn’t quicken.
That’s not to say that The Tourist doesn’t have class acts behind as well as in front of the camera. Director von Donnersmarck made the Oscar-winning The Lives of Others and his co-writers, Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) and Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), are past Oscar winners too. Somehow, though, their talents haven’t gelled.
Perhaps only a Hitchcock could fashion thrills out this confection. Perhaps Depp and Jolie lack the necessary chemistry. Or perhaps this kind of glossy romantic thriller just doesn’t work any more.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray double-play by Optimum Home Entertainment on 25th April.