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The Tourist, Wild Target 

THE TOURIST

*1/2

With The Tourist, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp aren't functioning as actors so much as they're trying their hands at being slum lords. Hollywood royalty blessed with a substantial measure of talent, these A-list actors are merely coasting here, slumming in style as they enjoy exotic locales and continental cuisine at studio expense. There's nothing wrong, of course, with watching even the most gifted of thespians let their hair down for an undemanding part, but it works so much better when the audience is allowed to participate in the festivities. That's not the case with The Tourist, which finds both stars sleepwalking through an exceedingly daft motion picture that insults moviegoer intelligence at an alarming rate.

A smug and chilly Jolie, whose wardrobe budget alone probably surpassed the salaries of the picture's entire sound, music and editing departments combined, stars as Elise, who's being tracked across Europe by Scotland Yard due to her association with a wanted man named Alexander Pearce. The mysterious Pierce instructs Elise (via letter) to throw the authorities (repped by Paul Bettany) off his trail by befriending a complete stranger and making them think that he's actually Alexander Pearce.

Elise settles on Frank (a crushingly dull Depp, in a role reportedly handed first to Tom Cruise and then Sam Worthington), a vacationing math teacher who's stunned that such a beauty would be interested in him. The ruse works too well, though, as a criminal kingpin (Steven Berkoff) also falls for the deception and thus orders his goons to kill Elise and capture Frank.

It's amusing to see former Agent 007 Timothy Dalton doing desk duty as a Scotland Yard superior, and equally pleasing to watch '80s villain Berkoff threaten Depp just as he did Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop and Sylvester Stallone in Rambo: First Blood Part II. But when mere trivia footnotes such as these prove to be a film's highlights, then something's gone terribly wrong.

I haven't seen France's 2005 Anthony Zimmer, but it's hard to believe it's as clumsily constructed as this idiotic remake. The Tourist is the sort of lazy picture that relies on an absolutely unbelievable coincidence to set the whole story in motion; from there, it only grows sillier, with characters behaving in illogical ways no matter what the situation. Of course, there's also a predictable twist ending, one so goofy that you hope at the outset that the filmmakers will avoid the temptation to go down that road. Instead, they gleefully embrace that temptation, putting the final period on a multiplex trip that's only slightly less annoying than a case of Montezuma's revenge.

WILD TARGET

**

Talk about landing the wrong man for the job. Director Jonathan Lynn has built his entire screen career out of helming comedies, yet based on the ham-fisted results, here's a person who's repeatedly displayed the comic instincts of a pillowcase. It's akin to imagining Mel Gibson spending the past two decades conducting sensitivity training seminars for a company's h.r. department.

Lynn, with such duds as the game-board-inspired Clue and Eddie Murphy's The Distinguished Gentleman under his belt, brings his usual flatline style to Wild Target, the disappointing remake of a 1993 French farce. Bill Nighy headlines as Victor Maynard, a sexually ambiguous hitman who unexpectedly decides to assist his latest assignment rather than bump her off. That would be Rose (Emily Blunt), a minor-league con artist who's just scammed an influential mobster (Rupert Everett). Victor ends up protecting the lovely yet prickly Rose from other assassins, with an innocent bystander named Tony (Rupert Grint) swept up in all the intrigue. As Victor figures out how to stay one step ahead of his kill-crazy colleagues, he also tries to sort out his feelings toward both Rose and Tony.

Wild Target is the sort of madcap comedy that breaks a sweat trying to generate a steady stream of laughs, but between Lucinda Coxon's lurching screenplay and Lynn's inability to maintain momentum, the film only works in fits and starts. That's a shame given the contributions of the principals: Nighy displays his typical droll sensibility, Blunt contributes a spirited turn, and Grint makes a game effort at breaking away from Ron Weasley. But in too many other respects, this one misses its mark by a wide berth.

 

 

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