December 7, 2006

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Turistas (R)
Josh Duhamel hides his poor-man's-Ryan-Phillippe charm under a layer of stage blood in the needless horror movie Turistas.

Ah, Leo, you are so charming. Even once this All My Children gem left Pine Valley and went to Las Vegas, he remained a handsome lad. And while I understand his wanting to muss the hair occasionally, this sweaty little Hostel rip-off is really beneath him.

Alex (Duhamel) travels to Brazil with his sister Bea (Olivia Wilde) and her slutty friend Amy (Beau Garrett). When the rickety bus they have decided to cross the country in plunges over a cliff, Alex and the girls plus a lot of gringo future victims — Pru (Melissa George) being the only one who is important to the plot — decide to chill on a beach and drink until someone roofies their drinks just to shut them up.

Which happens rather quickly and not just to shut them up but also to rob them blind and leave them stranded in the remote paradise with no means of escape. But when a local guy who was with them when they were drugged but was not himself drugged (critical thinking skills, apparently, stop at the U.S. border) offers to take them to a remote house to hang out they decide, heck, why not? And when a group of pushy, medical-equipment-carrying Brazilians with guns shows up and a girl among their number says the leader has bad plans and they should run, why shouldn't our young intellectuals hang around looking bewildered? After all, I'm sure a call to the U.S. embassy would make clear that they have American passports which, sure, they can't find at the moment but which nonetheless makes them immune to harm.

Nobody actually says "This is an outrage; I want to speak to your superior" but that sort of delusional arrogance seems to follow the characters right up until the blood-letting begins, which is probably for the best as it adds a comical note to the film that would otherwise engender no response from its audience whatsoever. Even the villains aren't all that scary; they seem more like Eurotrash black market salesmen of fake Chanel bags and pirated DVDs than the vengeful killers we are supposed to see them as.

Though Duhamel is this film' "star" even he doesn't manage to hold our attention all that well; his character runs on one level of "I lost my car keys" anxiety that gets tiresome after a while. The other characters are interchangeably dull and making the "everybody but Josh Duhamel" parts of story interesting falls entirely to Melissa George. They fall to her and she steps aside to let them keep on falling.

Ludicrous plot and unimpressive villains, however, aren't this movie' biggest problems. During the shooting of the second half of the movie, someone on the crew apparently forgot to use any kind of light, thus making it hard to pick out who was running, who was killing and who was just staring out into the jungle. I get that nighttime has to be dark but if your movie isn't visible it really falls down on the "picture" part of the "motion picture."

Though, considering the gloom that permeates not just the cinematography but the sub-par script, the limp acting and the weak story, perhaps keeping the audience from being able to see the movie was the way to go. D

Rated R for strong graphic violence and disturbing content, sexuality, nudity, drug use and language, most of which you won't be able to see but it is there. Directed by John Stockwell and written by Michael Ross, Turistas is about an hour and a half long and is in wide distribution from Fox Atomic.

— Amy Diaz