Think James Bond as a woman instead, and the negative critic backlash by the mostly male profession, will come pouring in. Not unlike, say, the mere thought of a female president in this country. Enter Angelina Jolie as a sly, elusive double or even possibly triple agent in The Tourist, locking horns when not lips with infatuated nerd Johnny Depp doing the girl, and the indignant critical fix is in.
Jolie shamelessly flirts and flaunts in The Tourist as Elise, a UK espionage hottie assigned to entrap fugitive British zillionaire Alexander Pearce, who apparently ended up so impossibly wealthy through an elaborate concoction of illegal schemes. But instead of cornering and cuffing her man, Elise succumbs to his romantic charms and switches allegiances, allowing Pearce to always keep one step ahead of the frustrated UK authorities.
As the furious and frustrated investigators (led by Paul Bettany’s nagging head scoundrel) close in on Elise, she eludes them by hopping a train from Paris to Venice, while receiving a series of covert instructions from her fabulously affluent lover on the run. And Pearce has most recently instructed her in a telegram to hit on and lure on board a man – any man – who resembles him, in order to mislead the spies in pursuit that the gullible gent is Pearce, and have them follow him instead.
After prowling the train for a bit, Elise settles on Frank, a shy but agreeable widower, recovering tobacco addict and math teacher from Wisconsin who’s as surprised as he is thrilled to be inconceivably stalked by this ravishing beauty. And in a case of stifled yet smoldering sensuality, the domineering femme fatale essentially orders her emotionally vulnerable prey hopelessly succumbing to an erotic trance, to man up and make his moves on her. Though always smoothly cutting him off at the pass, because her heart still belongs to the fleeing felon, at the moment dodging the law and infuriated fleeced mobsters alike.
The steamy and barely restrained cat and mouse chemistry between Jolie and Depp is palpable throughout. And laced with stylishly provocative wit and charm, in an enigmatic tango between the entrapped nicotine nut and predatory love junkie in charge. While German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s inner tourist displays his own weakness for ornate backdrops, with pompously conveyed, extravagantly upscale travelogue settings from Paris to Venice, that nearly threaten to upstage his flamboyant predatory protagonist.