Oline Cogdill
altSo many tourists, so many scenes in Venice, so much confusion.

When I first saw the previews of The Tourist, the movie starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, left, I wondered, is this the same The Tourist based on the 2009 novel by
Olen Steinhauer.

It certainly has a lot of similarities -- Venice, clandestine meetings, spies, and the most beautiful people trying to protect the world since, well, James Bond's last movie.

I wasn't the only reader who was confused.
The Depp/Jolie Tourist movie is about an American tourist named Frank who is an American tourist visiting Italy and gets caught up in espionage when he meets the beautiful Elise. It is based on an original screenplay.
Steinhauer's excellent novel is about a clandestine branch of the CIA whose deep undercover agents call themselves Tourists. Milo Weaver is a black-ops agent who wants to get out of the business and devote time to his wife and 6-year-old stepdaughter. Naturally, he agrees to do one last job for the agency. (Where have you heard that plot spin before?)
Steinhauer's The Tourist is the start of a projected triology. The Nearest Exit, the second novel in the mini series, was published a couple of months ago.
This is where the confusion starts.
Steinhauer's novel The Tourist has been optioned by George Clooney who plans to play Milo. According to as many Websites I could find, The Steinhauer/Clooney Tourist is being planned for a 2012 release.
Remember that word "planned" so many novels are optioned but the film version runs only in someone's head, not the screen.
So will The Steinhauer/Clooney Tourist be a real visitor or an accidental tourist?
Who knows.
Steinhauer's novel is a multi-layered novel filled with political intrigue and human agnst of a man who had done some terrible things in the name of his country and just wanted a quiet life. I reviewed the novel very favorably and it was one of my favorite books of 2009.
I would imagine that when and/or if The Steinhauer/Clooney Tourist makes it to the screen, The Depp/Jolie Tourist will be long forgotten, expect by extreme fans of the actors. (Should anyone care, I am a Depp fan.)
Oh, and let's make it even more interesting. Earlier in 2009, George Clooney starred in The American, based on a novel by Martin Booth. That plot also has some similiar aspects -- "an assassin hides out in Italy for one last assignment."
So many tourists, so little ways to keep them straight.