I’m not sure if I’m simply becoming more jaded over time or if Hollywood is no longer putting up a decent showing, but I’m getting fairly tired of the B-Story Romance. You know how it is, a movie’s premise puts the focus squarely on some action or adventure element, but then, almost obligatorily, there is some budding romance between the main character and their side kick which ends up heavily affecting the A-Story.
The Tourist, is, ostensibly, a ‘Mistaken for Badass’ movie. Angelina Jolie is the girlfriend of a criminal mastermind who is on the run from both the authorities and a deadly mob boss. She receives instructions from her beau to get on a specific train and sit down with someone of matching build to himself and convince the authorities that this random schmuck is in fact the criminal mastermind. Thus, the movie introduces Johnny Depp as the random schmuck who ends up tagging along with Jolie as they escape from various sticky situations between Interpol and the mob.
Jolie, initially, comes across as pretty badass herself. She skillfully tries to dodge a legion of followers, and then puts on a very convincing show to fool everyone into thinking that Depp is, in fact, Alexander. She does this by pretending he’s her boyfriend, which naturally leads to some confusion on Depp’s part, as to what’s going on (he isn’t initially aware that he’s being used as a decoy).
Then, about halfway in, Depp clues into the fact that he’s a decoy, and almost immediately, Jolie starts starts showing signs of being ‘The Chick.’ For someone who is supposed to be comfortable with the sorts of situations that the film shows, she begins to look scared more and fills her conversations with how much she cares about her absent boyfriend. Then, towards the end of the film, she states that she’s falling for Depp in addition to her old flame.
I guess that’s the real issue. Jolie is only ever really defined by her relationships to men. She begins as the girlfriend to the mastermind, then, at some ambiguous point in the film, she moves onto being the appreciative target of Depp’s affections. She doesn’t really stand on her own at any point in the film. That might not be so bad in a romantic film, but this is a action/thriller, which makes her the damsel in distress.
No real chemistry ever develops between her and Depp, whose meanderings eventually add up to something intelligent, even if all those efforts are washed away at the end. So, on a story where the primary motivation of the protagonist (Depp) is to win the affections of the damsel, and the damsel’s primary motivation is to reunite with her boyfriend, the absence of any convincing attraction between these players is pretty damning.
Now, let’s talk about the twist ending. If you actually care about spoilers, don’t read on.
So Depp is actually the mastermind pretending not to be. Which is SUPPOSED to be touching, because Jolie falls for her boyfriend twice, without even knowing it’s him. But the lack of chemistry crops up and makes it awkward feeling because now we’ve SEEN her interact with her absentee lover and saw that there’s no real connection. Furthermore, the evolution of Depp’s character ends up being worthless because he was only pretending! He didn’t actually become more capable as a result of his affections for Jolie, he was merely fulfilling the twisted role he set out for himself to play. It’s VERY unrewarding.
Which is basically how I’ll sum up the whole movie. An poorly thought out plot with an unappealing romance, both of which shoot themselves straight in the foot with an unnecessary ‘twist’ ending that could have been omitted and made the movie better.