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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'The Tourist' trounced by critics: Has Johnny Depp ever looked this bad in a movie?

December 9, 2010 | 11:54 am

Johnny_depp I guess we know now why Sony didn't let the critics see "The Tourist" until Wednesday morning, barely 48 hours before the film's opening Friday. To hear the critics tell it, the Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie-starring suspense thriller is a stinker. The studio has claimed its decision had nothing to do with being worried about negative reviews, insisting that it was eager to preserve a key plot twist for audiences. But now that the critics have seen the suspense thriller, the jig is up. As the Orlando Sentinel's Roger Moore put it, neither of the actors has any luck convincing us "that they're anything other than pampered movie stars getting paid to do fake hijinx in one of the most romantic cities in the world."

As for preserving that super-secret key plot twist, my pals who've seen the film say you can see it coming from a mile away. The reviews have been so dreadful that the film currently has a 23 at Rotten Tomatoes, which to provide some context is 15 points lower than the score the critics gave to "Burlesque." Variety's Justin Chang says the film is "an all-too-resistible Eurochic trifle." The Miami Herald's Rene Rodriguez could barely stay awake, writing that "The Tourist's" pace is "so slow that the movie could well put Ambien out of business once it starts showing up on late-night cable TV." Even the much-beloved Depp gets creamed in the reviews, with Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman saying the actor looks like "he's starring in a bad Christopher Columbus biopic," adding that Depp spends most of the film "amusing himself in a way that only dogs can hear." 

The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy zeroed in on the film's core flaw: "Staggeringly misjudged in virtually every department, from the wannabe effervescent script to Johnny Depp's dopey hairdo, this zero-chemistry pairing of Angelina Jolie and Depp stands as an object lesson in the perils of succumbing to the siren call of big-time Hollywood filmmaking for a foreign director with one art house hit behind him."

In days of old -- meaning five years ago -- Sony and producer Graham King, who's the man who raised the money for the $100-million production, would've laughed off the bad reviews, since audiences would flock to the theaters simply for the privilege of gazing at the film's two megawatt movie stars. But as we've been seeing lately, movie stars no longer have automatic drawing power, especially in the U.S., where audiences have become especially adept at quickly smelling a rotten egg at the multiplex.

Even if the movie ends up making tons of money overseas, the derisive reviews represent a huge career step back for Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose 2006 German thriller, "The Lives of Others," won an Oscar for best foreign language film and established him as the leading new European filmmaker. He spent years figuring out the right film to make in Hollywood, but judging from the early reception to "The Tourist," von Donnersmarck staked his reputation on the wrong horse.     

-- Patrick Goldstein

Photo: Johnny Depp at the world premiere of "The Tourist" earlier this month in New York City. Credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images