The Tourist is about as difficult to get through as spotting the vowels in the name of its director. Florian Henckel von Donnersmark was last seen receiving a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2007 for The Lives of Others which was about a couple living in East Berlin who were being monitored by the police of the German Democratic Republic. Its positive reception made way for the assumption that Donnersmark would continue to populate the USA with films of seemingly otherworldly and underrepresented themes. But his current project is saddening in its superficiality and total implausibility.
The film’s only real upside is its stars: two of our most prized Americans. Johnny Depp plays Frank Tupelo a math teacher from Wisconsin who travels to Europe after his wife leaves him presumably because of his weakness and simplicity. While en route to Venice he meets Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) who situates herself in his company after she receives a letter from her criminal lover Alexander Pearce (who stole some billions from a very wealthy Russian and the British government) with instructions to find someone on a train who looks like him and make the police believe that he is the real Alexander Pearce to throw the authorities and the Russians off his track. Elise picks Frank and after they are photographed kissing each other on the balcony of Elise’s hotel everyone begins to believe Frank is the real Pearce and so begins the chase.
While Donnersmark could not have picked two better looking people to film roaming around Venice his lack of faith in the audience is obvious. Every aspect of the characters is hammed up again and again as if Donnersmark felt burdened with the task of making us see his vision. Doubtful that we’re capable of getting to where he wants us he has crafted a movie completely devoid of subtlety. Elise’s strength and superiority over Frank are portrayed by close-ups and repeated instances of men burping up their lungs upon seeing her (as if her beauty is in any way subjective?). And in case we forgot that Frank is the victim in this story -- even though he’s been tricked chased and shot at - Donnersmark still felt the need to pin him with a lame electronic cigarette to puff on. Frank and Elise somehow manage to lack mystery even though we get very few factual details about each of them.
Nothing extraordinary comes to us in the way of the film’s structural elements either. There is very little of the action that The Tourist’s marketing led us to believe and the dialog is often painful. The plot itself is almost shockingly unbelievable especially when we’re asked to believe that Elise falls in love with Frank after a combination of kissing him once and her disclosed habit of swooning over men she only spent an hour with (yes that was on her CV).
The Tourist is rather empty and cosmetic. It’s worth seeing if you’re a superfan of Jolie or Depp but don’t expect to walk out of the theater with anything more than the stub you came in with.
Elisabeth Rohm, former Law And Order lawyer, will again tangle with the law in Abduction. Rohm has been cast as the biological mother of Taylor Lautner’s character, a teen who discovers his baby picture on a missing persons website and goes on the run. They had better cast Lautner’s 40 year old twin as his biological father, because I can’t think of a single actress who looks less like Lautner than the extremely WASPy Rohm. Except maybe the people cast as his faux-parents, Maria Bello and the always evil Jason Isaacs. How the hell didn’t Lautner’s character notice he was adopted? Did he just assume that his mother messed around with the mailman?
John Singleton of Boyz 'N The Hood is directing the action thriller, with Jeffrey Nachmanoff of The Day After Tomorrow writing. Sigourney Weaver has also been cast in the film as Lautner’s character’s psychiatrist. Rohm seems like an obvious weak link in a fairly strong cast, since her characters on Law And Order and Angel only ever seemed to alternate between emotionless (but tough) and angry (but tough). Maybe the filmmakers are hoping that, next to Lautner's vacant niceness Rohm will look like Brando.
Abduction is scheduled for a 2011 release.
Source: The Collider
Although politically charged Middle Eastern terrorist themes have generally been box office poison of late Traitor is worth a look as it ratchets up the suspense to levels that make it this year’s successor to The Bourne Ultimatum. Don Cheadle stars as U.S. Special Opps officer Samir Horn a renegade military operative who walks the fine line between good and evil to the point where even HE isn’t sure which side he is working for. FBI agent Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) is hot on his tail in one of those enormously complicated undercover jobs. Horn conveniently stays two steps ahead of authorities who have reason to believe he may be working as a double agent with deep and dangerous connections to key terrorist organizations. A task force links him to various illegal operations in Yemen Nice and London and soon he becomes one of FBI’s Most Wanted--a man of contradictions and covert strategies that are perhaps not in the best interests of the United States. Muddying the waters is his secretive relationship with a veteran CIA contractor Carter (Jeff Daniels) who may have an unofficial agenda at odds with the agency. As Clayton tracks Horn around the world a high stakes game of cat and mouse leads to some surprising twists and turns. With Hotel Rwanda’s Don Cheadle in the lead and a ripped-from-the-headlines plotline you might be inclined to think Traitor is going to be one of those overly serious not-so-fun dramatic pieces. Think again. Cheadle comes off more like Matt Damon in the Bourne movies and nails this heavy action role focusing as much on the chase as on the complicated dialogue he has to deliver (including some very convincing Arabic). Key to the role is keeping the audience on edge and constantly questioning Horn’s motives as he does his high wire act on the gray line between black and white. Cheadle plays him as a man trying to do good but one who isn’t quite sure what that means anymore. Although the actor dominates the landscape Pearce as the agent in pursuit is also very effective in his dogged determination to come to the truth. Their relationship is reminiscent of the one between Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. Also impressive in his few scenes are Jeff Daniels as the morally ambiguous independent CIA contractor and Neal McDonough as Clayton’s partner. In what could have been stereotypical terrorist roles casting real Arabic actors paid off with nicely authentic performances from a group of fine international performers including Aly Khan (A Mighty Heart) and Said Taghmaoui (The Kite Runner). Writer/director Jeffrey Nachmanoff successfully makes the transition from full-time screenwriter (The Day After Tomorrow) to a talent with a clear set of skills behind the camera. For a directing novice Nachmanoff has done his homework and has created a pulse-pounding action thriller that doesn’t miss a beat but still remains a complex drama to its core. Expertly blending some fine cinematography and superb editing the director makes this Middle-Eastern epic work as pure entertainment first and political polemic second. Interestingly it wasn’t Nachmanoff who came up with the intriguing concept but comedian Steve Martin who wrote the initial treatment thinking it would be a nifty premise for a movie. He was absolutely right.