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The Tourist (Blu-ray Review)

I was pretty harsh in my initial review of The Tourist last December.  I’ll admit it.  It’s not that it’s a completely bad movie, but it just had a multitude of potential and all the right ingredients to be so much better than it was.  That’s why I initially called it disappointing.  So why wasn’t it stellar?  Well, that’s what I intend to explore in more detail this second time around with the Blu-ray experience.  Three months have past since my initial exposure to the film.  I think that’s enough time to be completely objective, don’t you? After all, I’m usually guilty of liking things the second time around.  I try not to act too fast when dismissing something initially because of this very flaw of mine.  So needless to say, I was very excited to revisit the beautiful architecture and landscapes of Venice on the Blu-ray format.  So here goes nothing.  This is “Take 2” of my review of The Tourist

Film  

So how can a film that contains everyone’s Hollywood favorites, Johnny Depp, and the sultry Angelina Jolie be called disappointing?  That seems really harsh, doesn’t it?  Well…I use the word “disappointing” very loosely here.  There were things about The Tourist that I liked a lot and other parts where I was like, really?  The Tourist is nothing more than a slow muddy thriller that does little to entice and/or excite its would be captive audience.  You don’t know how much it pains me to say that because I really wanted to like this flick. Last December.  I will admit to liking it more the second time around, but only slightly.  I’m not the biggest Jolie fan there is (there are some roles I felt she ruined like Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft), but I thought the chemistry between her and Depp would be immeasurable.  Man, was I ever mistaken.  There was definitely something missing.  The chemistry between the two was virtually non-existent if you were to compare it to the Pitt-Jolie courtship within Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  I have to say, even despite not being a huge Jolie fan; this disappoints me.  I was expecting so much more!

So The Tourist is actually a remake of the 2005 French film Anthony Zimmer.  The feature is directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (try to say that name really fast) and in addition to Jolie and Depp it also stars everyone’s favorite priest and monk/ptriest, Paul Bettany, and Timothy Dalton.  It’s also interesting to note, much like SALT, the leading male role for this film was originally attached to Tom Cruise (I also heard a rumor Sam Worthington once had it too).  In addition to Cruise, Charlize Theron was also cast to play Jolie’s role.  There were also a number of directorial changes too.  You know what all this means?  Hmm…  It sounds to me like this film was set up for failure way before it was even produced.  Or is that just my Jonah Hex mind over analyzing the situation?  Oh well, let’s move on.

The Tourist tells the tale of an American “tourist” (Depp) visiting Venice, Italy and his fateful encounter with Elise (Jolie), a woman I am sure most guys wouldn’t mind spending time with.  Anyway, little does this tourist know, at first, that Elise is using him to throw Scotland Yard police off the trail of her lover, Alexander Pearce, a criminal wanted in 14 countries and who has stolen money from all the wrong people.  This obviously puts Depp’s character in some crazy and awkward predicaments as people mistakenly think he is someone he just may or may not be.  And what would a movie be without a little love interest?  Yes, Elise ultimately likes this tourist, but does she really?  Or is she just using him and all of this is still an act?  If you want to know, then you will have to just watch this, won’t you?  I know, I’m aa terrible tease.  Don’t worry.  I have been called worse.

But hey, I’m actually a really nice guy.  Let me save you some of the suspense and maybe some money too.  The movie’s scenery is just plain gorgeous.  I know, as I guy I should not be using that kind of vocabulary, but I couldn’t help wanting to visit all the sets in real life where this movie took place.  Any Casino Royale fan would feel the same, I think.  But it’s the slow moving nature of this film that drags itself under.  Coupled with the fact that Jolie and Depp really never sizzled onscreen together and a predictable plot twist that really couldn’t go anyway else and you have a film that’s really hard to recommend as a Day #1 purchase on the Blu-ray format.  I hate to use this saying (I really do), but “it is what it is.”  There’s nothing overly original here, the dialog is not exciting and the execution of the final twist leaves a lot to be desired.  But hey, that’s just my opinion.  So as I promised last December, I gave The Tourist another test drive on Blu-ray, but I still wasn’t swept away.  I just like to look and be mesmerized by Jolie’s sensual presence (I can’t believe I’m admitting this), Depp’s awkward hairstyle (even though I secretly love it) and the beautiful city of Venice, Italy (God…how I want to visit there).

Video  

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings the gorgeous scenery of The Tourist to the Blu-ray format with a 1080p AVC MPEG-4 video codec perfectly famed in a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect presentation.  The Venice architecture is truly breathtaking here.  This is why I wanted to see this film so bad again on the Blu-ray format.  The countryside landscapes, like the train ride to Venice for example, are a work of art in themselves.  The colors are all beautiful and vibrant.  Like most new Sony Blu-ray releases, the black levels were all deep and inky.  Skin tones, for the most part, were always spot on.  There were a few orangish moments, but for the most part Angelina’s complexion was milky, creamy and soft as it should be.  I’m known to not being the biggest Jolie fan, but even I cant deny her beauty in this Blu-ray transfer.  Really, my only complaint here would be the inconsistencies of the sharpness levels.  Things are not always as sharp as they could be.  It’s hit or miss really.  Although, it also could be my nit picky standards I possess.  Ha ha.  There are certain scenes where the softness really does artistically accent the beautiful water city of Venice.  My God…I want to take a trip there!  Before I exit this discussion on the Blu-ray’s video presentation I wanted to take a quick moment and make mention of this one scene after the boat escape where you could astonishingly see every individual bead of water on this one henchman’s forehead and coat.  Now that’s 1080p baby!

Audio  

The Tourist takes a trip on the Blu-ray format with a tranquil, but aggressive 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround audio track.  I say tranquil only because the score really settles in nicely with the beautiful scenery that graces your viewing surface.  The music is engaging when it needs to be and subtle/peaceful at all the right times to effectively counterbalance and complement the lulls and places where things need to be, for lack of a better term, “tranquil.”  One could almost say that the gorgeous scenery of Venice and the accompanying score almost warms you.  The dialog is clear and intelligent throughout.  I like my dialog loud, but I really can’t complain here.  I guess my only true complaint is the surround sound isn’t as engaging as I prefer.  It’s adequate at best, but never breathtaking.  However, given the subject matter on the screen, you can hardly hold it against this track.  Other than a lack of dynamics, there’s nothing else to nitpick about here.

Special Features  

I have to be careful how I grade this section from now on with Aaron’s comment on my last review.  I’m just giving you a hard time Aaron.  There are absolutely no hard feelings.  The Special Features are pretty slim here.  Thankfully, they are all in HD, but other than a commentary track and a small set of featurettes, there’s nothing really to write home about.   However, if you are like me and you want to know all you can about this beautiful city of Venice, then I suggest you give this gondola of Special Features a quick spin.  You may just find the beauty you are looking for.

  • A Gala Affair (HD, 7:12) – You want to know more about the gala ball Johnny and Angelina attend?  Well this one’s for you!
  • Bringing Glamour Back (HD, 9:08) – Believe it or not, clocking in at only 9-minutes, this is the longest featurette on here.  That’s kind of sad when there’s so much to talk about.  So anyway, the cast and crew chat here about nothing more than beauty.
  • Alternate Animated Title Sequence (HD, 2:14) – This one is kind of self-explanatory.
  • Director Commentary –  Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck provides an exceptional commentary track here.  Despite not being the biggest fan of the film itself, I did enjoy hearing all about the making of the movie.  It’s a rarity for me, if I do say so myself.
  • Outtake Reel (HD, 1:26) – Yawn!  Here’s the usual stuff that you are all used to by now.
  • Action in Venice (HD, 6:29) – Here you can take a brief behind-the-scenes look at probably my favorite action sequence in the movie.  I say my favorite only because there are so few to choose from.
  • Canal Chats (HD, 6:01) – Want to take a ride with the cast and crew?  Well if so, you’re in luck!  Ride through the waters of Venice here as they take you through the shooting locales.  This is brief, but very cool because again, I want to visit here!  Next year I’m going to do it!
  • Tourist Destination Travel the Canals of Venice (HD, 3:17) – Need I say more?  How I wish I were here.  The cast and crew talk about my favorite city here in all its splendor.
  • MovieIQ
  • BD-Live

Final Thoughts  

So what do you say, are you up for a visually stunning, but slow burning thriller starring two of Hollywood’s hottest leads?  Ordinarily I would say yes, but I caution you to be careful in regards to what you wish for.  The onscreen chemistry between Depp and Jolie doesn’t sizzle like you would expect it to and the plot twist at the end may have you scratching your head and saying “Really?”  Ultimately, the film never materializes and fails to live up to my high expectations, even the second time around for me.  I’ll simply be watching this movie again one day for the beauty of Venice, Italy before I take a much needed trip there next year (fingers crossed).  But in the meantime, Sony does serve up a nice video palette and an adequate audio experience for your viewing pleasure.  Therefore, I would highly recommend it’s worth your time in at least investing in a rental The Tourist before blind buying this one.  That’s my two cents.  Take it or leave it.

The Tourist arrives on the Blu-ray format March 22nd.  Pre-order your copy now!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

3 Responses to “The Tourist (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gerard Iribe

    Good stuff, Brian!

    I want to see this, because every scene or promotional piece I saw for The Tourist Angelina looked classy as hell. Ebert said it reminded him of Grace Kelly back in the day.

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Man, I really hated this movie.

  3. Jiminy Critic

    Aaron, again I agree with you on this one. Beautiful locales, lousy script and chemistry.