The Tourist ★★

"The Tourist", which is based on Jérôme Salle’s 2005 film "Anthony Zimmer", turns out to be a case of the whole being less than the sum of its parts. Co-writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose outstandingly brilliant "The Lives of Others" is one of my all-time favorite films, disappoints with this barely passable and easily forgettable movie.

The film starts off well enough, piquing the viewer’s interest. After the first act, however, the filmmakers settle for lackluster plot developments that effectively neutralize the potential of the movie. Furthermore, the viewer has no emotional hook to latch onto, because the picture is populated with two-dimensional, stereotypical characters that do not undergo any development during the 103-minute running time.

One needs to throw disbelief out of the window in order to accept the absurdities of the plot. Want an example? Just watch how incompetently the police behave, especially before and after the climax: they place a handcuffed civilian where the person in question is able to see and hear mission-critical information, and later they seem to be in a rush to leave a crime scene before it has been secured.

It should come as no surprise that the plot contains twists—two, to be exact—given that Christopher McQuarrie, of "The Usual Suspects" fame, co-wrote the screenplay. The first one is admittedly unexpected, but the second twist should not be particularly shocking to anyone who has not slept through the proceedings. When the end credits start to roll, it becomes obvious that virtually everything that happens in "The Tourist" revolves around its unsatisfying second twist; the film is full of contrivances.

The Italian city of Venice looks its best thanks to John Seale’s vivid, warm cinematography. James Newton Howard has composed a serviceable musical score, and the music that accompanies the action scenes adds some flair to the aural experience of the movie.

Angelina Jolie turns in a good performance as the enigmatic Elise Clifton-Ward, while Johnny Depp seems a bit uncomfortable in the role of Frank Tupelo, and there is little believable chemistry between the two. The supporting cast includes Paul Bettany as a dedicated police inspector and Steven Berkoff as a generic mob boss. Timothy Dalton plays Chief Inspector Jones with a hint of refreshing playfulness.