Published on June 13th, 2005 | by Erich Becker0
Review: Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Mr. and Mrs. Smith director Doug Liman knows his action, and after the amazing car chase scene in The Bourne Identity and the action here, the man certainly is the one to hire when it comes to pulling off some bitchin’ sequences. Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, while being high on humor and explosions, fails a bit in the story department only to be reprieved by the sheer charismatic chemistry of the film’s two stars, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
Pitt stars as John Smith, and Jolie as Jane, two secret agent/mercenaries working for competing organizations. The key is, neither of them knows each other is such an agent until about mid-way through the film. That’s where things really start to pick up, with both trying to “1-up” each other in a series of failed attempts to kill each other. The trailers pretty much give away most of the film’s plot, and the “twist” that is suppose to make the audience really think about what is going on is poorly written, but when houses explode and hot women thrown knives, you can’t help but be entertained.
Joining the tabloid-two-some is Vince Vaughn as Eddie, John’s partner who still lives with his mother, and The OC‘s Adam Brody as a secret agent in training who serves as the film’s MacGuffin. There are other minor players, such as Jane’s faceless boss, whom we never get to see and an all-female secret agent crew who appear for about 15 seconds total before their forgotten. No, this film is about Jolie and Pitt’s characters and their battle with each other until they finally realize they do love each other and make-up.
It’s also best that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, as it would be come somewhat of a chore to watch. From the very onset Liman and screenwriter Simon Kinberg aim for a action/comedy approach with the opening scenes taking place at a relational therapist who is interviewing John and Jane off-camera. Their answers right away spark laughs from the audience and encouraged me that this was going to be a good time, and a good time it was.
Nearly the first half of the film has the audience knowing who each of the main characters really, but not John and Jane. After a rendezvous goes bad in the desert both of the principles begin to suspect each other until their secret is finally revealed. As you’ve seen in the film’s advertising, and in the trailers, there’s lots of gun play, explosions, knives, elevator accidents, etc. Bring the girlfriend for the comedy and Brad Pitt, stay for Jolie and the guns.
Liman’s handling of the action scenes is superb in that you actually feel as though you are there. The shoot out in a minivan being chased by three bulletproof BMW’s is the highlight of the film as John and Jane squabble with each other while exchanging bullets with their pursuers. Mr. and Mrs. Smith‘s climax in a department store will also bring smiles to the audiences face with pure Bond-like escapes from barrages of bullets.
Even with the film’s humor it’s hard to suspend your disbelief enough to accept the fact that anything in this two hour movie is plausible. The story itself almost takes a backseat for a good portion of the film as the second act seems to be a set of escapes by John and Jane from each other with even more stuff blowing up around them. There’s no characterization, no substance to anyone on screen other than “these two shouldn’t like each other, now they’ll fight to the death.”
As mentioned before, Jolie and Pitt click very, very well, even amidst tabloid reports of their romance and rumors of a very turbulent production cycle for the film (including the shooting of three endings). Luckily, none of the off-camera drama makes its way into the film, instead the audience is treated to two very capable actors who gel together very, very nicely. It’s a wonder why they hadn’t been teamed up before.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith is an above average movie. While the dumbness of the plot and non-existent, lame-brain story may turn off a few, the promise of big guns, lots of fire, and Miss Jolie in a bra will pack the house full. A smart film? No. Fun? Hell, yes.