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Monday, December 12, 2011


Stupefying. After THE LIVES OF OTHERS/’06, his superb debut on East German ‘Stasi’ mentality, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s sophomore pic is this wan attempt to recreate a witty Hitchcockian thriller. It’s got all the ingredients: Innocent Man On The Run; Beautiful Female Spy; Flirting On A Train; Glam Locations; a McGuffin . . . the works. But it never comes to a boil; heck it never hits sous vide. And the stars seem to know it. As the naif who steps into international intrigue, Johnny Depp looks blurry & out of sorts while Angelina Jolie looks positively spray-painted as a sashaying secret-agent in haute couture & a phony British accent. The film tries to wow us with sweeping Venetian vistas, luxurious hotel suites & a fancy-dress formal ball, but Donnersmarck can hardly get things past a stately walking pace (does he think we might miss something?), and the infamous German sense of humor only makes things worse. In tiny parts, Timothy Dalton & Rufus Sewell show just how to play this sort of thing, but no one else in front or behind the camera has a clue. Then, just when you think the worst is over, they haul out one of those ludicrous switcheroo/’got’cha’ endings. As if this coffin needed another nail.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Stanley Donen’s CHARADE/’63 does Hitchcock-lite to a 'T.' Plus a neat ‘got’cha’ ending.

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