In a year of craptaculars, The Tourist deserves burial at the bottom of the 2010 dung heap. It offers talented people trapped in creative inertia. A microscope and a search party could not discover any trace of chemistry between Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. They look like a couple who took too many Ambien tabs on a jet trip to Venice, leaving them dazed and slack-jawed when they finally get to the city of canals. Of course, one of them falls in. The movie is already all wet. Jolie plays a walking mannequin named Elise. She’s left Paris for Venice on the instructions of a British lover she hasn’t seen in two years. A note from the unseen mystery man — we’re told he’s had $20 million worth of plastic surgery (eat your heart out, Joan Rivers) — instructs Elise to find a dupe who looks like him. That will throw off Scotland Yard, who want him for stealing $744 million. Elise settles on Frank Tupelo (Depp), a math teacher from Wisconsin with the worst hairdo since Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men.
The Tourist wants to take flight like the lightest of Hitchcock, say To Catch A Thief, but it lands with a resounding thud. How could German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who won a deserved Best Foreign Film Academy Award for 2006’s The Lives of Others, take so many missteps? The tin-eared script, credited to von Donnersmarck and two Oscar-winning screenwriters — Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) and Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) — could serve as a model on how to botch suspense, character, romance and wit. The alleged “surprise” ending has been telegraphed so far in advance even the actors look bored breathless having to act the damn thing out. The Tourist reaches its own kind of perfection — it fails on every conceivable level.