With Turistas, director John Stockwell cements his status as contemporary Hollywood’s most accomplished exhibitor of the female behind. A plethora of shapely, teensy bikini-clad rear-ends decorate Stockwell’s latest, a tale of South American backpacking-gone-awry dominated by the types of sparkling, sumptuous beach settings and aquatic footage that, after Blue Crush and Into the Blue, have become the filmmaker’s stock and trade. Unlike his prior two efforts, however, there’s as much ugliness as beauty on display throughout Turistas, a tropical variation on Eli Roth’s Hostel in which Americans, Brits, and Australians vacationing in Brazil are punished for their cultural insensitivity, treatment of foreign locales as personal playgrounds, and indulgent enjoyment of untamed, impoverished lands’ bounty. Or at least so the film’s villain argues, since Michael Arlen Ross’s script, while partially sympathetic to natives’ disgust over tourists’ tactlessness, never has any of its Caucasian protagonists act truly hideously, their crimes relegated to Alex (Josh Duhamel) thinking the country’s citizens speak Spanish instead of Portuguese, his sister Bea (Olivia Wilde) taking a photograph of a local girl, and horny Finn (Desmond Askew) wanting to get drunk and screw an exotic hottie. The same can’t be said of its serial killer (Miguel Lunardi), a doctor who harvests gringos’ organs for a rural hospital in retaliation for his country’s alleged exploitation at the hands of Western powers, and whose monstrousness precisely conforms to the type of “foreign savage” mindset that Alex and company are accused of embracing. Muddled social commentary isn’t nearly as damaging to Stockwell’s maiden horror effort as is the near-total absence of tension, which the director—desperate to prey upon travelers’ fears of the geographic unknown—ineffectively attempts to generate via one gory depiction of surgical disembowelment. Worse still is that, whereas his oceanside and rainforest scenes boast a vibrant, playful sexiness, his climactic nighttime chase sequences (taking place on land and underwater) are so visually incoherent that it eventually seems the filmmaker, in terms of crafting suspenseful action, is out of his depth. Even if he clearly knows how to shoot a tushy.
- Fox Atomic
- 89 min
- John Stockwell
- Michael Ross
- Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown, Agles Steib, Miguel Lunardi
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