There should be a clause in every Angelina Jolie contract stipulating that she never has to say "Alexander" with a goofy British accent.
The sound brings back unwelcome memories of her work in Oliver Stone's notorious "Alexander," but apparently not for Jolie, who's at it again in "The Tourist."
She's Elise, a mysterious British woman being stalked by British spies in Paris, where she's to meet her fugitive lover - the equally mysterious Alexander Pearce, a thief who owes a large sum to the British government.
Nobody knows what Alexander looks like. Only that Elise refers to him as Alex-on-duh. So when Elise smells a rat and flees to Venice, she follows Alexander's written instructions to hook up with some unsuspecting dupe and convince surveillance teams that he is her reclusive, wanted beau.
Enter Johnny Depp as Frank, a Midwestern schoolteacher traveling alone, who's thunderstruck to be singled out and set upon by this glamorous, sexy, intriguing female, setting up what is meant to be comic interplay between the two attractive leads.
It's meant to get even funnier when a ruthless billionaire who's sent an army of Russian thugs after Alexander starts to come after poor Frank, already pursued by British agents and Italian police.
That may sound like a fizzy, frolicky good time, but it isn't.
Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's name is far more exciting than his movie, which is full of blandly staged action, though in his defense I've never found boat chases to be very cinematic. At least there are no gondoliers.
"The Tourist" has a go at romance also. Frank falls for Elise, and even after she comes clean and cuts him loose, he continues to toddle after her as the Russians and the authorities close in. She finds this stray-pup loyalty charming, while the exasperated British agent in charge (Paul Bettany) does not.
The romance is also a nonstarter. For some reason, Jolie plays Elise's mystery as emotional detachment and a mannequinlike lack of expression. And she has a weird way in "The Tourist" of gliding around without moving her legs or changing expression, like Morticia Addams.
Is she sexy, or in shock?
You might wonder why A-listers like Depp and Jolie would end up stuck in a bland thriller like "the Tourist."
It becomes apparent late in the movie, when you realize there is a clever movie hiding behind the facade of the second-rate dud you've been watching.