What can twenty-million dollars buy? The answer becomes obvious at the climax of The Tourist.
Alexander Pierce is the focus of this tong in cheek thriller. He is connected to Angelina Jolie's Elsie Clifton-Ward and is the target of underworld gambler Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff) and Scotland Yard officer (Rufus Sewell).
While the film is a focus on Pierce we follow Jolie floating around Paris and Venice to the delight of gentlemen in both locations. Her presence has the dignity of Audrey Hepburn with the sensuality of Sophia Loren. She walks like Charlize Theron in a perfume commercial. Following written instructions which appear at various points during the story, she initially boards a train with the instruction to sit with a man who has the basic look of Pierce. Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) draws her attention and she joins him a stranger on a train. Tupelo is a math teacher from the Middle West and has difficulty keeping up with Elsie even when answering simple questions. Even with his uncomfortable position he follows her and she registers him at a Venice hotel as her husband.
Filled with clues such as a medallion or a stone piece, many scenes draw memories of other very successful films. North by Northwest parallels the meeting on a train along with Strangers on a Train are just a couple.
At some points we can't help but see this as a better Fair Game as we imagine Valerie Plame impressing the international spy community with her whit, presence and confidence. All of that makes for a film which has excitement and a few laughs, but mostly one which keeps a smile on our face throughout.
For Depp he has the opportunity to become a quiet almost shy teacher who has no worldly experience who is thrown into a major international spy hunt. Elise constantly pulls him out of trouble from the canal water to a roof and his modest style plays very real.
The two are constantly ducking and bobbing from Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff) the nasty vicious villain with a wart on his forehead and Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany) from British intelligence. Each side wants the money the elusive Pierce has received under questionable circumstances. Rufus Sewell is the Englishman who adds to the plot without knowing what the game is. Timothy Dalton is the chief inspector who seeks a practical solution
All cloak and dagger the two stars bring us along for the ride with confusion, excitement, winking and blinking none of which ever give us the idea that they are not in control.
The Tourist is a film that has more feeling than serious quality, but without a doubt it feels good.