Who’s In It: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff, Rufus Sewell
The Basics: American tourist Frank (Johnny Depp) is swept off his feet by the alluring Elise (Angelina Jolie) while vacationing in Paris. But their meeting is no accident; Elise has chosen Frank to play the patsy in an elaborate scheme to take the heat off of her lover, a white-collar fugitive being pursued by both Scotland Yard and the gangster from whom he stole a fortune. As the stakes gets higher and Frank declares his love for Elise, all the players converge among the canals and balls of Venice for a final showdown -- served, naturally, with a twist.
What’s The Deal: Dancing between dueling identities -- part exotic travelogue thriller, part romantic caper -- The Tourist is a sleek, if slight, showpiece for stars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Cast just anyone (like, say, Charlize Theron and Sam Worthington, both of whom had been attached in the lead roles at one point or another) in this twist-filled European escapade and it wouldn’t be half as watchable, but Jolie and Depp’s star wattage keep the film afloat even when the plot grows increasingly preposterous. Their chemistry together, however, flirts a disappointingly chaste line; save for a few kisses, the pairing of the two former Sexiest Persons Alive never explodes into fireworks. Still, it seems all part of the plan for director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who follows up his Academy Award-winning first feature (the 2006 German-language drama The Lives of Others) with this stylish and sumptuous Hitchockian lark.
Where von Donnersmarck Makes His, Um, Mark: In the elegant compositions and visual panache on display as he films two of the world’s biggest stars in two of the world’s swankiest cities. There’s a chic flair in the way he transfixes his camera on the sensual sashaying of Jolie’s couture-swathed backside as it mesmerizes her Scotland Yard eavesdroppers and the audience at once, or in the diagonal lines he uses as a visual motif to signal that everything may not be what it seems in this world built on intrigue and deception.
When The Tourist Feels Most Worth The Effort: At the end, when it delivers the bamboozle you’ve been expecting in a way that you might have predicted but will still be entertained by. It’s the kind of conclusion that makes you think for a split second about re-watching the whole movie again to look for the clues you missed the first time around. Or: You could watch the French original, Anthony Zimmer, featuring Yvan Attal as the hapless patsy and Sophie Marceau as the femme fatale.
Bonus Cool Points: For casting former 007 Timothy Dalton as Paul Bettany’s secretly amused Scotland Yard superior. The film pays further homage to the suave spy hero by transforming Depp’s bungling math teacher into a smooth operator; he dons James Bond’s iconic white tuxedo and mans up to go after the sophisticated, secretive and sexy Jolie (who does a convincing version of the quintessential Bond girl herself).