Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Director(s): Doug Liman
Writer(s): Simon Kinberg
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)Jun 10, 2005 - Wide
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Mr. and Mrs. Smith, from The Bourne Identity’s director Doug Liman, is the story of a couple facing a bump in the road of their marriage. The couple, played by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, met in Bogota about six years ago. There was heat and passion then, but now they tell their marriage counsellor that things are a bit boring. There needs to be a spark.
Of course it would probably be a good start if the couple stopped keeping secrets from each other like, oh, I don’t know, the fact that they’re both skilled assassins who head off to work to kill somebody and then talk about the day at the office over their casserole. One day, they’re unknowingly assigned to kill the same target and when they discover that they’re both there they learn their new assignments are to kill each other. Will they take each other out or will love prevail? That’s the question posed by screenwriter Simon Kinberg. There’s often that moment in a romantic comedy where the romantic leads kiss after a fight. Usually, however, that fight doesn’t require the amount of ammunition used in a border skirmish.
Pitt and Jolie have so much chemistry together onscreen that they could probably share some with everyone in the cinema and still have enough to smoulder. The couple’s sweaty first meeting in Bogota will probably lead to patrons requesting that cold showers be installed. It’s hard to get past it, but this onscreen coupling is criminally attractive.
Pitt and Jolie carry the weight of this film squarely on their toned shoulders. Though Vince Vaughn and Kerry Washington appear as their friends and co-workers and Adam Brody has a small role as one of their targets, most of the screen time belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Director Liman and Kinberg’s script gives them plenty to work with in terms of action. Even while fending off armed attacks on the highway that involve massive amounts of firepower, the pair still manage to reveal facts to each other about their double lives. Pitt’s character asks “Did you hear the helicopter dropping me off that night for our anniversary dinner?” to which Jolie responds “No. Oh, percussion grenades. I was partially deaf that evening.” It’s as if Hepburn and Tracy met at a shooting range.
But just like their marriage, the audience begins to itch for something more. Chemistry can only get you so far and massive gunfights, no matter how well-choreographed, start to feel a bit hollow. Action scenes lately seem to follow the pattern that if five minutes of shooting and explosions is good then ten minutes must be twice as good. It’s as if action directors have forgotten the law of diminishing returns. And by throwing everything but the kitchen sink into these scenes we’re getting to the point where we already saw an assassin try that move in another film earlier in the week.
There’s enough in the concept that I think you could have actually stripped it down and had the couple plumbing the dark comic depths of a marriage so riddled with secrets. In an age where Hollywood recycles more and more, perhaps we’ll just need to wait a few years for a more intimate indie remake. It may be a popcorn film, but at least Pitt and Jolie make it attractive popcorn.
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