Mr. & Mrs. Smith |
directed by Doug Liman
(20th Century Fox, 2005)
If you can get through the rather tedious first half hour or so, Mr. & Mrs. Smith finds its legs and makes for plenty of entertaining action and adventure. That first 30 minutes can be pretty rough, though, as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie really seem to sleepwalk through their roles. Doubtlessly, this is due in no small part to the nature of their characters, two highly-ranked assassins, going through the motions of a normal husband-and-wife relationship in order to hide their real jobs from one another.
I think it goes deeper than the script, though. Jolie has always gone all out for her characters, but for quite a while I just didn't think she put her heart into this particular role -- ironic, given the fact that she and Pitt began their love affair during filming. I have to admit that the whole real-life romantic triangle thing dampened my enjoyment of the film, to a certain degree. For me, there's a definite ick factor in watching Mr. & Mrs. Smith, since in a sense you're watching a real-life adulterous affair play out right in front of your eyes.
The plot is pretty basic and nothing we haven't seen before. Girl meets boy, girl marries boy, girl and boy try to kill each other. For the first six years of their marriage, John Smith (Pitt) and his lovely wife Jane (Jolie) are completely unaware that their partner is, like themselves, a high-level assassin. How they go traipsing all over the world killing people and still manage to return in time for dinner at 7 every night is just one of many questions the writer chose blissfully to ignore. They really have little reason to suspect one another, though, because their suburban home lifestyle is exceedingly boring. Whatever spark of romance they once shared, it's long gone by this point.
Everything changes, however, when they get in each other's way on separate missions centered on the same target. Neither can afford to let the other blow his/her cover, so their respective agencies quickly pit them against one another. Of course, things get a little more involved after that, but you can see where this whole thing is going. Finally, once the Smiths stop being so painfully civil to one another, their characters finally begin to show signs of life. Too many attempts to be funny during the heat of battle only reinforces the weakness of the entire script, however, leaving you unable to enjoy all of the mayhem and things that go boom as much as you think you should. Sure, some of the dialogue is funny, but most of the time it just seems terribly contrived.
With all of its explosions, big guns and all-around violence, Mr. & Mrs. Smith should manage to satisfy those who just can't get enough movie mayhem, and Jolie -- even though she's not at her best here -- still makes any movie she's in worth watching. Clearly, though, something is missing. Thanks largely to a relatively weak script, Pitt and Jolie never really bring you in to their characters' world, which means you are never able to forget that you're watching a movie. As a result, the film entertains but never really satisfies.
by Daniel Jolley
She's Jane. He's John. They're both gorgeous. They meet under less-than-auspicous circumstances in Bogota, Colombia, in the middle of some government mess, and it's love at first sight. Five or six years later (they disagree on which), they're seeing a marriage counselor trying to put their marriage back on track.
So begins Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a movie with one of the most outrageously improbable, farfetched plots I've seen in many a year, but it's none the less enjoyable for all that. What Jane and John didn't know about each other, and still don't know five or six years after they married, is that each is a hired assassin working for rival companies, and very good at their jobs.
Unknown to each other, they're both given the same target to take out -- a young hunk played by Adrian Brody who's looking to move up in the espionage/assassin business and have a desk of his own. But what they also don't know is that their respective companies are more than a tad miffed at them mixing business with pleasure -- you don't marry into the competition -- and Brody is just the bait: each one has secretly been assigned to take the other out.
From there, the action gets wilder, faster and crazier. "Do you know you're ticking?" asks an incredulous bystander when Jane has disappeared into the crowd after stuffing a time bomb in John's pocket. "That's TWO TIMES you've tried to kill me!" yells John into his car phone, chasing after Jane's getaway car. "Oh come on, it was only a little bomb," sniffs Jane, preparing for mayhem once they both arrive home. And there's mayhem galore to come, especially when they realize what the real deal is, and decide maybe it's time to turn the tables.
OK, so the plot is more than a little contrived, and the action is sometimes so over the top that the entire film seems more like a camp action/adventure movie, but nobody in their right mind would take this movie seriously anyway. The real reason to watch this film is the onscreen chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They're an absolute delight to watch. They're perfect together. And if some -- in fact, a lot -- of the dialogue falls flat in places, they manage to pull it off.
When all is said and done, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a fun film to watch. Pure escapism, nothing more, nothing less. Just grab the popcorn, sit back and enjoy.
by Judy Lind