Review: The Tourist Blu-ray

STUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck | CAST: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Rufus Sewel, Steven Berkoff
3/22/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD combo $38.99, Blu-ray $34.95, DVD $28.95
director’s commentary, alternate animated title sequence, two featurettes, outtake reel; Blu-ray adds three featurettes and MovieIQ
PG-13 | 103 min. | Thriller | 2.35:1 widescreen | 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The press materials for the DVD and Blu-ray release of The Tourist refer to the film’s stars, Johnny Depp (Alice in Wonderland) and Angelina Jolie (Salt), as “two of Hollywood’s hottest properties.” It’s something that the filmmakers were obviously thinking as well, as the movie attempts to play in the tradition of the exotic, sexy and well-budgeted Hollywood espionage films of yesteryear. But unlike such classics as Charade, Arabesque, North by Northwest and so on, the Depp and Angelina and their situation come off more like carefully chosen ingredients for an uncompromising menu. Perhaps if those involved threw a little more seasoning in the pot…

The Tourist movie scene

Depp and Jolie do their dance in The Tourist.

Not that The Tourist doesn’t look appetizing. Jolie’s impeccably accented European mystery women leads Depp’s low-key American math teacher into a web of intrigue, romance, hot pursuits and action in the gorgeous city of Venice over cat-and-mouse spies-and-money hoopla.

Again, it looks quite fine, with filmmaker Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck (director of the 2006 Oscar-winning foreign feature The Lives of Others) getting a lot of the details right, from the postcard-perfect depiction of Venice to the casting of Steven Berkoff (44 Inch Chest) as the Euro villain and former 007 Timothy Dalton (TV’s Chuck) as the head of a British spy unit.

But the sense of fun and delight that made the Charades and Arabesques of the 1960s click is simply not here. (For similar movies that worked in the 1970s, see The Day of the Jackal or even a couple of Roger Moore Bond films, like The Spy Who Loved Me.)

Jolie and Depp both have charm and appeal to spare and have proven that they can shine (which is why they’re called stars!), but they don’t bring it in this movie. It’s easy to say they don’t have “chemistry,” but I look at it more as them not enjoying The Tourist’s only-in-the-movies scenario, like it’s the champagne they’re trying to sell to the audience. So our pleasure in the film is relegated to the superficial thrills of the locales, Jolie’s striking wardrobe and the competently mounted action sequences.

Like the film itself, the generous assortment of bonus features on the Blu-ray is perfectly competent and attractive, but most of it lacks the kind of spark that encourages serious attention. This is best exemplified in the five featurettes, which offer the usual complimentary looks at the production, locales, action scenes and cast.

Stand-outs in the supplemental department are the alternate title sequence, a lively streamlined animated piece a la Mad Men that’s actually better than what the producers went with (which I can’t even remember off the top of my head).

Von Donnersmarck’s commentary also is worth a listen, both good-natured and informative. As we noted before, he appears to be quite the movie lover (not to mention a big fan of his leading actor and actress), and it shows here with his enthusiastic if measured audio track.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.