The Tourist

The Tourist

DIR: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck • WRI: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, Julian Fellowes • PRO: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Ron Halpern, Tim Headington, Graham King • DOP: John Seale • ED: Joe Hutshing, Patricia Rommel • DES: Jon Hutman • CAST: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany

The Tourist has one of the most promising line-ups ever: featuring the talented Johnny Depp and the gorgeous Angelina Jolie, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others), and written by both Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) and the author of one of the greatest films of all time, Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects). However, even with all those gourmet Hollywood ingredients, this film is little more than greasy fast-food cinema.

An incredibly pretty film, The Tourist must have been funded almost entirely by Venice’s Tourism Board, as the sweeping shots of the city often take precedence over other silly little things – like character development or plot. The camera takes its time panning around posh hotel rooms and around lavish locations, instead of getting to the point and telling an actual story.

In an ‘homage’ to films from the ’50s and ’60s, the epic orchestral soundtrack plays constantly, trying in vain to add some lift to the flattest possible scenes, and instead gives a surreal and comical feeling to the film. It really is quite cringeworthy to listen to that OTT soundtrack climaxing away in the background as the two people on screen just sit down, eat some dinner and shoot the breeze.

The plot is just awful: like something that was written by a computer programme named ‘Screenwriting 101’. The completely unoriginal, boring characters plod along through a number of uninspired misadventures damaging a great deal of Venice’s infrastructure along the way.

The two leads might as well have been cousins, for all the chemistry that was between them. However, I did enjoy it when Angelina threw some pretty hilarious ‘shapes’ with her determined strutting. And the bad guy… what a character. He constantly tries to out-evil himself with some diabolically dastardly, diabolical dialogue: ‘I once murdered a pregnant waitress for putting too much pepper on my food.’ Good for you Reginald Shaw!

It’s not that The Tourist is the worst movie ever, it generally covers its bases: it’s vaguely entertaining, pretty to look at and is star-studded; it just so happens that its got all the emotional depth and intricacies of a slice of toast.

Gemma Creagh

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
The Tourist is released on 10th December 2010



DIR: Scott Stewart • WRI: Peter Schink, Scott Stewart• PRO: David Lancaster, Michel Litvak • DOP: John Lindley • ED: Steven Kemper • DES: Jeff Higinbotham • CAST: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palickie

Open scene on a deserted, rubbish-strewn LA alleyway. A semi-naked man from another world drops from the sky with a sole objective – to reach and protect the naive mother-to-be of humanity’s saviour from those that seek to terminate her. Sound familiar? ‘Come with me if you want to live’ and all that. So begins a modern classic which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year; a yardstick which Legion falls roughly the distance from here to Heaven short of.

Legion begins on the eve of The Apocalypse, when rogue angel, Michael (Paul Bettany), falls from Heaven to protect Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) and her apparently very important unborn child from the angels of Heaven who have been ordered by God to exterminate humankind, but especially Charlie and her child. Really. Charlie works as a waitress in a roadside diner in the middle of absolutely nowhere, where the vast majority of the film takes place. The diner is populated by a medley of staff and strangers who become trapped once the building is surrounded by God’s minions and are forced into action by Michael against the endless hordes.

It will come as no surprise from the first two paragraphs that Legion is not a good film. While it can’t be faulted for modelling itself after a bona fide cinematic blockbuster in The Terminator, its failure can be attributed to one simple fact; robots fighting are cool, angels fighting aren’t. Watching Arnie soak up bullets and carry on regardless is cool; watching an angel twirling to deflect bullets isn’t. Also, setting a film during The Apocalypse and then having almost the entire story unfold in the desert is more than a little disappointing. Due to a convenient loss of power in the diner; the television, radio and telephone go dead and we are forced to take Michael’s word for it that The Apocalypse is happening at all. I’d like a second opinion.

One thing which Legion does get right (although not on purpose) is its absurdly archaic and chauvinistic portrayal of women; which fits snugly with its source material – The Old Testament. The three female characters of the film, Charlie and the mother and daughter pair (Kate Walsh and Willa Holland respectively), require repeated protection and are wholly incapable of defending themselves or even following sound advice. One can only hope that in the unfortunate event of a sequel we are given a female character more akin to the indomitable Sarah Connor.

When the voiceover which opens the film states that God decided to wipe out humankind because ‘He just got tired of all the bullshit’, one can only assume that God had just been forced to watch this nonsense.

Peter White
(See biog here)

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
Legion is released on 5 March 2010

Legion – Official Website