If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the movies, it’s never talk to strangers on any mode of transport: planes, buses, trains. Someone ends up dead or darn close to dying. There’s always a hidden agenda that’s only revealed through the course of time, and who knows if you’ll be able to save yourself then.
But on to this particular case of strangers on a train. Angelina Jolie stars as Elise Ward, the wife of a man ( named Alex Pearce) that is wanted by both authorities and bad guys. He’s in hiding, and Elise is under surveillance by the authorities. From his hiding place, he sends Elise a message; get on the 228 train, find a man of my height and build, and make the police think he’s me.
That’s where awkward tourist Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) comes in. Elise charms and bowls over Frank, inviting him to her hotel room. Through several plot points it would be both useless to pursue and tedious to recount, both the authorities and the bad guys are soon chasing after Frank, much to his bewilderment.
Short of giving away the movie, it’s sufficient to say that Angelina Jolie is playing a role she plays a lot these days, only this time with a British accent. Johnny Depp is very adept at playing the slightly off center, bumbling nice guy. Venice and Paris are beautiful. It was fun and entertaining enough while it lasted, only when I left, I was disappointed.
There are plot holes and awkward acting moments from the supporting actors that could be blamed. I could blame the fact the movie has no real heart or message. I could say that the Jolie character is too flat, and her moods are too quicksilver, or the surprise twist was a letdown. But mostly, the problem is the chemistry between Frank and Elise is off.
If the chemistry were right, the fact the plot has holes big enough to drive a humvee through would probably have been lost on me until well after I left the movie. With a movie that has no plot, the characters have to be stellar. While both performances were good enough on their own, they never fit together–not in the beginning, the middle or the end. Elise is more amused by Frank than anything, and humors him while ruthlessly using him to help a man she hasn’t seen in years; Frank is dazzled by Elise, but it never seems to go any deeper than dazzlement. Meanwhile, whatever changes the relationship takes, the ending renders completely superfluous and unnecessary.