Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Dir: Doug Liman. 2005. Starring: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie. English. Action.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith

After five or six years, John and Jane Smith find themselves in a marriage gone stale. That is until a little spice is thrown into the mix, and they come to realize they are both professional assassins, working for rival outfits.

In Doug Liman’s (Swingers, Bourne Identity) Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play the suburban couple with some serious skeletons in their closest. The film opens as the couple seeks marriage counseling and it becomes clear that the passion has all but drained from their love life. But when they are both sent out to neutralize the same target, their gun sights become turned on each other, with good comic effect.

There is a great scene of them at dinner, sizing up the other, trying to find something to solidify their worst assumptions. And once the cat is out of the bag, the fireworks are unleashed, as they are given forty-eight hours to eliminate their spouse.

Doug Liman’s action direction is fast, loud, over the top and extremely entertaining. After a slow set-up, there are a number of explosive action set pieces, including a freeway chase, making use of a minivan, unlike any other film. Keeping in line with the suburban aesthetic, the film’s finale of firepower and John Woo-like violence, takes place in an IKEA superstore.

Although filled with great stunts and fight work, the strength of the film comes from a witty script by Simon Kinberg and Liman’s direction of the subtle comic beats. Pitt and Jolie are both well cast as the super-couple who kill callously for cash, while trying to seem like every other couple in their well-manicured neighborhood. The actors both find the tongue-in-cheek humor of the situation and the chemistry between them was certainly less about acting, as time has shown.

The production design of the film is slick and very comic bookish. The cinematography is polished, with some good use of steady-cam. The soundtrack is nothing special, but there are a few tracks used nicely in juxtaposition to the ridiculous and campy gunplay and explosions.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith is not a film that will change your life, but it is both exciting and darkly funny. Although it is first and foremost a popcorn movie, the story concept and casting make it fresh.

The one complaint I have with this film is that by the end, it leaves a considerable unresolved loose end.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Jul 30, 2008 4:47pm
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