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December 19, 2010

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Pretty pair provide decent diversion

IT'S probably best to head into "The Tourist" with the mindset that you're going on an actual vacation yourself. If you are in the mood for mindless, escapist fun - dazzling scenery, elegant evenings, decadent hotel suites and expensive clothes - you will be fine.

There are all the obligatory chases and shootouts you would expect in a romantic action caper, but you never get the sense that anyone is in real danger. There are twists, but they won't make you think too hard, and in the end you will have devoted fewer than two hours of your life to a decent diversion.

Watching Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie bounce off each other isn't torture. Pretty people went to Venice and made a pretty movie. Joining them will not be thoroughly satisfying, but it won't kill you, either.

Jolie stars as Elise Clifton Ward, an elegant and mysterious Englishwoman (which allows her to dust off her impeccable British accent she did for the "Tomb Raider" movies). Elise is the lover of the elusive Alexander Pearce, who is the target of Scotland Yard for having stolen billions from a gangster.

Elise receives a note from Pearce instructing her to take a train from Paris to Venice. While on board, she is to pick out a man of similar height and build to serve as her companion and confuse her followers. She chooses Depp's Frank Tupelo, a teacher from Wisconsin.

Once they arrive in Venice, Elise and Frank find themselves being hunted by the police and the angry gangster (Steven Berkoff), who wants his money back. Everyone assumes Frank is Pearce - and even if he's not, he's still in trouble (and the score from James Newton Howard tends to play up the madcap hilarity, and the would-be romance, a bit too intrusively).

Along those lines, do Jolie and Depp, two of the biggest stars on the planet, have any chemistry with each other? Here and there. They are actually more interesting as individuals, which is not exactly helpful, given that "The Tourist" is meant to be a romance. But Jolie provides the sultry action, and Depp offers some sweet, goofy laughs, and in the end no one got sunburned or suffered from food poisoning.


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