Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie! Is there anything else people needed to know about this movie to make The Tourist a success? Actually, yes, and while it was reasonably enjoyable to see two of the brightest stars in Hollywood finally share the screen, it turns out that the film has garnered lots of bad - and perhaps unjustified - reviews. Rotten Tomatoes, for example, shows an aggregate score of 20%, making it the most disliked film currently in the theaters.
The story is rather complicated, where beauty Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) is the one connection with the elusive Pearce, who stole $2.3 billion dollars from Brit crime boss Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff) and then skipped out on a £744 million dollar back tax bill. Why he owes taxes for money he stole from a mobster isn't explained, but one presumes that he was supposed to declare it on his taxes and, uhm, forgot.
To throw off the Italian Interpol surveillance team - directed at a distance by gawky Scotland Yard Inspector Acheson (Paul Bettany) - Pearce tells Elise to board a train heading to Venice, find someone who is a similar height and weight to him and befriend the man. The surveillance team will then follow the wrong man (shades of Hitchcock's classic "the wrong man" storyline) and she'll be free to meet up with Pearce and resume their romantic relationship.
The slovenly man she picks is Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp), a math teacher from Madison, Wisconsin who is traveling Italy solo. He's a bit of a mess, awkward and clearly uncomfortable in the presence of the dazzling Elise. They trade suggestive banter while on the train and go their separate ways once they arrive in Venice, but Elise pops up again while Frank is clumsily looking at a map and trying to figure out the city.
Their continued interaction doesn't go unnoticed by the surveillance team and Shaw learns about it too, sending in his own goon squad of Russian mobsters to capture Pearce and get his money back. For two billion in stolen funds, however, he seems surprisingly cool: that's a lot of money. The chase is on with both Interpol and the Russians after poor, hapless Frank, believing he's Pearce. But he's just a school teacher...
I have to admit, I found The Tourist an enjoyable escape film and while Depp was surprisingly sloppy, unattractive and unengaging in the film, Jolie was very good with her Sophia Loren-like Italian fashion wardrobe and hairstyle and her "I'm letting you in on a secret" performance. The plot had tons of holes in it, but I expected that and so wasn't too bothered. What was more disappointing was the surprising lack of chemistry between the two stars. I could believe Frank falling for Elisa - a mysterious, beautiful woman with clearly powerful and rich friends - but there was never a moment on screen that explained why she'd even give him the time of day once the initial deception was complete.