In this week's 'The Tourist,' an American (Johnny Depp) quietly visits Italy and finds himself swept up in an exotic tale of romance and thrills. That kind of thing pretty much happens every time an American visits Europe; there's no such thing as a relaxing getaway there. Here's a sample of seven different things that can happen to naïve, withdrawn, repressed, puritanical Americans when we visit the much older, wiser, more experienced continent.
1. Kidnappers Are Around Every Corner.
Don't turn your back for a second. Your wife could be missing when you get out of the shower. Your daughter could be gone before she's even left the airport. Your husband could wake up in a coffin underground. There could be some hidden reason for this, or it could be just because you're an American. See: 'Fantic,' 'Taken' and 'Buried.'
2. Get Ready to Run.
Many Americans in Europe wind up unexpectedly involved in some sort of espionage or crime or sting operation. This requires a good deal of hiding, running, handling of weapons, and finding some kind, oddball European (A cab driver? A hooker with a heart of gold?) that you can trust. Sometimes these events involve a history that goes back centuries, which a simple American can never fully comprehend. Sometimes this happens when Americans get too cocky or greedy, and sometimes it's merely a matter of wandering into the wrong train car and speaking to the wrong people. See: 'The Third Man,' 'Mr. Arkadin,' the 'Bourne,' movies, 'The Ninth Gate,' 'Transsiberian,' 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' and the 'Da Vinci Code' movies.