Film Reviews
Photo courtesy of HBO Max

As the fabulous Jason Bourne films prove, there is something intriguing about amnesia, especially for a person in serious trouble, struggling mightily to access memories, meantime pursued by merciless people. Why? What has provoked this inexplicable nightmare? While it doesn’t measure up to Bourne drama (what could?), the Australian television series “The Tourist” has appeal.

It begins dramatically in scenes reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s 1971 “Duel,” that is, a semi-truck figures prominently. Alarmingly obscured, its driver menaces a car, in this instance, one casually moving across the Australian outback. Shocked, confused by the harassment, the car driver unsuccessfully attempts to avoid victimization. And yet, with a dramatic crash, the series takes off.

The target, an Irish tourist, awakens in a hospital with total amnesia. He, the man eventually known as Elliott Stanley, remembers nothing, absolutely nothing. Probationary Constable Helen Chambers interviews Elliott, to no avail. A note in Elliott’s pocket sends him to a cafe in Burnt Ridge, an excuse of a town where a bomb explodes just as the waitress Luci walks Elliott across the street. The first episode of six has set the scene.

There are so many twists and turns that follow that I can say no more since many actions and interactions arrive as real surprises. There’s some humor, especially with the appealing constable Helen and her fiancé Ethan. There’s also a fair amount of violence, some of it quite unnerving and graphic. It includes: shootouts, drug trafficking, kidnapping, more chases, beautiful and desolate scenery, and a diverse group of characters, some helpful, some ominous. Though the plot often strains any credulity, the cast make it fun to play along.

Headlining the acting is Jamie Dornan as the amnesiac, Danielle Macdonald as Probationary Constable Helen Chambers who steals every scene she’s in, and Shalom Brune-Franklin as Lena Pascal, an enigmatic, cagey fellow traveler. “The Tourist’s” first season of six episodes streams now; check listings. Its second season releases soon.

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