Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp as lovers in Venice? The concept could make any potential traveler ready for their full-body pat-down. But boy, does this gondola sink to the bottom of the canal fast. It's not that Jolie, playing a mystery woman with a gangster-wanted embezzler for a boyfriend, doesn't get the chance to flash that crazy-cat smile of hers---or that Depp isn't inhumanly charming simply standing around being a Wisconsinite doofus enlisted as a distraction. (The script had input from both Gosford Park's Julian Fellowes and twisty-pants Christopher McQuarrie of The Usual Suspects.)
Rather, let's lay the blame at the feet of unlikely director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who might have displayed flair examining the guilt-ridden psyche of the East Berlin Stasi in The Lives of Others, but doesn't seem to have ever watched a fun, cosmopolitan piffle like Charade. Camera moves are lugubrious, rooftop and water chases seem to go on for days, and most mystifyingly, Paul Bettany is asked to function as slow-burning comic relief, wearing the scowl of an infuriated Scotland Yard agent. The movie dies onscreen; it might be the best advertisement for avoiding the glories of Italy ever released by a Hollywood distributor.
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