Sunday, February 7, 2010

Review: Pitt, Jolie Blaze in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 94 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
Running time: 115 minutes
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content, and brief strong language
DIRECTOR: Doug Liman
WRITER: Simon Kinberg
PRODUCER: Lucas Foster, Akiva Goldsman, Eric McLeod, Arnon Milchan, and Peter Wachsberger
EDITOR: Michael Tronick

ACTION/COMEDY/ROMANCE with elements of a thriller

Starring: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington, Adam Brody Chris Weitz, Rachael Huntley, Michelle Monaghan, and Keith David

The entertainment wing of the news media has been abuzz about the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie flick, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, directed by Doug Liman, for months now because many believe that the film shoot was where Pitt’s marriage to actress Jennifer Aniston (TV’s “Friends”) fell apart and his are-they/aren’t they relationship with Ms. Jolie began. For a while, it seemed as if the tawdry adultery angle would drown the film, but early favorable reviews kept any alleged hanky-panky from completely overshadowing the film. While Mr. & Mrs. Smith is an unusual mixture of several genres, it is a sassy, faux-witty, action flick with one great car chase scene and a lot of good chemistry between the stars, and I’m certainly glad I paid to see it in a theatre. Ignore the flimsy plot and the empty characters, which aren’t much more than plot props and targets for action violence. Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a star vehicle that you see if you like the stars.

Married for five or six years (that’s a joke in the film), John Smith (Brad Pitt) and Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) are bored with their quiet, domestic tranquility. The biggest secret that they’re keeping from each other is that they are both assassins for different espionage organizations and are globetrotting and killing for hire behind each other’s back. The couple’s separate lives collide when they bumble upon the same assassination assignment. That causes the spouses to end up as each other’s next hit, but when they chose reconciliation instead of mutually assured destruction, both of their former agencies come gunning for them.

While not as entertaining as Liman’s film Go! (1999) and certainly not on the level of the super-smart, super thriller, The Bourne Identity (2002), Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a unique hybrid. It’s an action comedy, but it also an action romance. It’s an action thriller, but it’s also a romantic, action thriller. Pitt and Ms. Jolie have fine screen chemistry, so the romance is works; some of the comedy comes from their chemistry and timing, but much of it also comes from the cartoonish violence of the shoot-em-up’s and gunplay and the explosions in the film that more often than not are done for comic effect. There is one great car chase in the film and a death match between John and Jane that give the film all the thrills it needs. However, the final battle between the Smith’s and a seemingly endless supply of special operations squads is a bit flat.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are lucky that Liman and writer Simon Kinberg, whose screenplay is a frothy and tasty confection, deliver summer cinematic fun, or the superstar movie duo would have suffered the same meltdown that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez experienced with their “romantically entangled” film, Gigili. Hardcore action junkies may not go for this film, but anyone who likes a different spin on big, loud action films will probably like this.

6 of 10


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