“You’re my only friend in the whole wide world,” carries a lot more irony when the person saying it has amnesia. That amnesiac is Jamie Dornan, a nameless Northern Irish man who awakes in a hospital after a horrific car crash in the Australian Outback.
The Tourist, starring Dornan as well as Danielle Macdonald as lowly traffic cop Helen Chambers, was a major hit when released on the BBC iPlayer in January 2022.
That it is now available to stream on Apple TV makes for a great excuse to watch it if you haven’t already.
What is The Tourist About?
Clearly with an amnesiac main character, the driving element of the plot will be an effort to find out who he is. Yet things quickly take a turn for the dramatic as The Man uncovers a series of strange truths.
Why is there a note in his pocket to meet someone at a diner? Why did he apparently hide a phone at a roadside shop? Why is there a desperate caller on the line? And why is someone trying to kill him?
Over a tight six episodes, these questions are answered and then some. Unlike their gripping (if bleak) BBC series The Missing, writers Harry and Jack Williams whisk a delightful dash of humour into this dramatic thriller, driven forward by the absolute dream pairing of Dornan and Macdonald.
At first, Dornan’s ‘The Man’ is any amnesiac character you care to think of. He’s sullen, brooding, and single minded – after all, what else does he have?
Enthusiastic but naïve cop Helen Chambers takes pity on him though. Her inexperience doesn’t dampen her enthusiasm even as she seriously overreaches her authority, although she doesn’t bank on pursuit by a rather determined assassin.
Helen isn’t the only one keeping an eye on The Man. Shalom Brune-Franklin plays a diner waitress who seems to know more about him than she is letting on. And a large American with a southern drawl (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Entrapped) who is trailing him does not seem to have his best interests at heart. The healthy mixture of character types throughout sears plenty of sizzling personality into each episode.
The Tourist Trailer
Is The Tourist Worth Watching?
Helen’s doormat personality mixed with a growing dependence on her by The Man is never less than fireworks for the screen.
Whilst the central mystery of The Man’s slowly returning memories is the primary plot driver, Helen’s journey is no less compelling.
Macdonald’s mousy performance makes for a character you want to hug each step of the way, and you are right there with her as she slowly gains the confidence to stand up to those who take advantage, with negging fiancé Ethan at the top of that list.
The Tourist is outstanding in every element of its production. It has a contained and pacy plot stuffed with personality-rich characters. It makes extensive use of gorgeous landscape shots to show off the high definition camera work. And it mixes drama with action and thrills with light comedic touches.
And at the core of it all, you have Jamie Dornan (Synchronic) turning in surely his best work, as ignited by a crackling co-dependency on Macdonald. Their pairing isn’t 50 Shades of G’day (…I’m sorry) but sparks with an honest believability more true than any bland corporate sauciness could ever achieve. Plus, it contains the most emotional use of a burrito emoji you will ever see.
Pull on your comfies, order in that room service and plan that road trip: The Tourist will take you on a holiday you won’t soon forget.
Words by Mike Record