Frank (Johnny Depp), a mild-mannered American on vacation in Venice, Italy, is befriended by Elise (Angelina Jolie), a breathtakingly beautiful woman with a mysterious secret. Soon, their playful romantic dalliance turns into a complicated web of dangerous deceit as they are chased by Interpol, the Italian police, and Russian hit men in this suspense-filled, international action thriller.
Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie use their star power to help propel The Tourist to its ultimate, satisfying destination. It just takes a little while to get there. Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others) sets a leisurely pace for The Tourist, which lets the film be equal parts mystery, romance, thriller, and comedy. But because of its lush cinematography and location-based shooting, The Tourist is perhaps first and foremost a valentine to the city of Venice. Jolie plays Elise, an international woman of mystery, somehow caught up with a glamorous thief who's double-crossed a gangster, Shaw (Steven Berkoff, splendidly menacing). On a train from Paris to Venice, Elise meets Frank (Depp), a schlumpy math teacher from Wisconsin on holiday. Before the train hits Venice, poor Frank has become entangled in a dangerous web that he can't begin to understand. As the plot unfolds, a group of stone-headed thugs dashes after Frank and Elise, darting through canals, across tile rooftops, and into some of the most beautiful hotel rooms in the world. The cinematography of John Seale and the score by James Newton Howard set an immersive tone. Depp and Jolie do a respectable job with their roles, though perhaps because of the mysteries in the plot, as a couple, Elise and Frank lack a certain oomph. But the supporting actors, including Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, and Rufus Sewell, are uniformly excellent, and the story (based on the French film Anthony Zimmer) wraps up nicely. Yet the true star of The Tourist is enchanting Venice--and anyone dreaming of a romantic getaway will not want to miss this trip. --A.T. Hurley