Holmes and I have always wanted to critique movies so we started with The Tourist. It’s an international crime thriller starring Angelina Jolie as Elise Clifton-Ward and Johnny Depp as Frank Tupelo. We don’t want to spoil it for you folks so we won’t tell you what it’s about. But that’s ok. As with many movie reviewers, the plot is irrelevant to our critique. So as an author/bellydancer and a man with experience in intelligence and covert operations, we’ll skip comments about acting quality, which was fine, by the way, and provide you with assessments from the perspective of our specialties.


As a bellydancer, I loved Jolie’s wardrobe. All beautiful drapes calculated to emphasize her curves and her seductive walk that any dancer might admire. I must caution, though, that if she continues to slink about in high heels with that exaggerated wiggle, she will end up with a serious case of tendonitis in her psoas.

I also noticed that Jolie’s lip and eye makeup, while masterfully drawn, was so pronounced that there seemed to be three characters vying for center stage in all of her close-ups. Great for theater lights, but hardly what a classy woman would wear. Made me wonder if her lips and eyes are Union and had their own contracts.

My author side noticed that there is no clear-cut good guy in this movie. I spent the entire movie wondering who I should root for. The geeky stranger? The mysterious boyfriend? The cops? I finally decided my confusion was the movie’s goal because Elise was just as confused as I was. I wasn’t sure she was even on her own side, much less anyone else’s.

Since I write science fiction, though, I appreciated the fantasy quality of the magical Beretta that managed to pop off three shots at a time with an immobile slide and exactly no recoil. I hope Hollywood will start providing our law enforcement agencies with these.

As for Jonny Depp, his appearance was satisfactory, but he was the victim of indecisive characterization, made all the more extreme by his good job of acting. Ok. I guess I will give you a bit of a spoiler. Skip down to the Holmes section if you don’t want your movie-going experience ruined for you.

Did you skip down?

No, really, I mean it, Skip the next paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie. It will blow the whole thing for you.

Depp is supposed to be playing a master manipulator who even fools his lover, Elise, with his disguise as a geek. The problem is that he is entirely too much of a geek. I mean, if he’s really Pearce, the guy who pulls off this incredibly complex plan, why in the hell would he let himself be surprised by a bellhop and then trapped in a bathroom with bullets coming through the door? He wouldn’t. Pearce would know where all exits are at all times and how to use them. Sorry. The Tourist gets a fail on character consistency.

Pearce would never have been in this predicament under any name.

Ok. You can start reading again. You didn’t cheat, did you? No. I’m sure you wouldn’t do that. . . . Would you?


Fortunately, this movie is unrealistic. Had it been realistic, it would have involved a great deal of tedium and boredom, which was what you were trying to escape when you went to the theatre. Don’t bother asking if this is how the criminals would do it or this is how the cops would do it. It isn’t. So just suspend reality for a couple of hours and have a little fun.

If you insist on worrying about it, here are some of the unrealistic aspects.

The big, European style black van with a camera on top that was following a few paces behind Elise? That’s how someone follows someone in Pink Panther movies or Mickey Mouse cartoons. It’s difficult to follow pedestrians in a vehicle without being noticed. You can use a vehicle as part of the mix, but to just drive along that way and stay with her was bizarrely cartoonish.

Also, a high-end, high-tech safe could not be installed in a remodeling project conducted on a Venetian mansion without the Italian treasury authorities and the European community authorities knowing about it. High-end safes are rare enough that they are easy for governments to keep track of, and governments do keep track of them. Authorities always want to know who the safes are attached to, what might be in them, and where the contents might come from.

As for the demolition job on the safe, it was one of the cheaper Hollywood safe jobs that I’ve ever seen. It would not have opened the safe, but it likely would have done a lot of damage to the room.

Here’s another unrealistic aspect that any middle school detective might spot. Since no one knows what’s going to happen, how do they know the snipers are what they need, and that all the bad guys are going to each conveniently be standing next to a window? Some bad guys sometimes spend part of their day not standing next to uncovered windows.


Overall, Holmes and I give The Tourist a rating of .38 Special. That means we didn’t resent paying matinee price to see it. (See rating system below.) It had nice scenery, decent production quality, and good acting in spite of the character inconsistency for Tupelo and the confusion for Elise. We also agreed that it was reasonably entertaining.

If you’ve seen The Tourist, what did you think of it? What movies would you like reviewed by an author/bellydancer and a spook?

Bayard & Holmes Movie Ratings (We prefer ammo. Thumbs are so yesterday.)

  • Dud Chinese-manufactured ammo: Stay home and do housework. You’ll have more fun.
  • .22 rim fire:  Not worth the big screen, but ok to rent.
  • .380: Go to the matinee if someone else is paying.
  • .38 special: Worth paying for the matinee yourself.
  • .357 magnum: Okay to upgrade to prime time if you can stand the crowd.
  • .44 magnum: Must see this. Life-altering event.

All the best to all of you for not getting followed by a big, black van today.

Piper Bayard—The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse

Holmes—Student of sex, C4, and hollow points

Trailer for The Tourist