When the lead characters in a romantic thriller lack a certain chemistry, itís foreseeable that at least half of the movie is going to lie on its side. I didnít see much in the way of combustion between the sensuous British intelligence agent (Angelina Jolie) and the American math teacher (Johnny Depp) she presses into service to pose as her lover whoís hiding from gangsters he embezzled from. In contrast to Jolie (SALT), whoís in constant poser mode, Deppís (FINDING NEVERLAND) consistent passivity suggests someone who is incapable of making a connection of any kind. The movieís style is reminiscent of the sort of Alfred Hitchcock (PSYCHO) suspense film that usually paired either Cary Grant (TO CATCH A THIEF) or James Stewart (VERTIGO) with an icy blonde in an exotic locale where a case of mistaken identity thrusts an ordinary man into extraordinary circumstances. Thatís all here. Whatís missing in the screenplay is the witty dialogue with cleverly underlying sexual overtones that characterized such aforementioned films like NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) whose final shot this movie pays homage to. The thriller aspect of the work isnít overly thrilling either because the pair are pursued by Russian thugs who were probably booted out of the Red Army since none of their shots were able to hit the broad side of a Venetian gondola or a hotel guest cowering in a bathroom. The concluding revelation isnít believable or logical and results in a missing payoff in the story. Action movies demand a certain pacing and vitality which never materialize. This is a movie that never hits its stride and winds up being too pedestrian for the kind of star power present.
CRITICíS GRADE: C
EXCELLENT MOVIES TO PUT YOU IN THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT: A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951), A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983), DIE HARD (1988), DISNEYíS A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2009), HOLIDAY INN (1942), ITíS A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947), NATIONAL LAMPOONíS CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989), THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993)