An entertaining couple
By Lady Liberty
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
*** out of ****
Between too many lukewarm reviews and persistent rumors of an affair between the two stars of the film, it was hard to know for sure whether or not Mr. & Mrs. Smith would be worth the price of a ticket. The previews, however, made the movie look interesting (to be fair, plenty of previews turn out to be better than the movie itself), and tabloid rumors amuse me. I've also enjoyed Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in past roles. Besides, on a hot and muggy night, an air-conditioned theatre sounded mighty good to me. By the time the movie was over, I had just one question: Why do we really go to see a movie?
The premise of Mr. & Mrs. Smith is both simple and completely over the top: John Smith (Brad Pitt) is a highly trained and paid assassin for hire. His wife, Jane (Angelina Jolie) is also an expert professional hit, uh, "man." Being involved in such dicey careers, however, means that the two must be very careful not to reveal their real jobs or their identities to anyone, including each other. He thinks she's a computer expert; she believes that he's some kind of engineering consultant. It turns out the two are very good at pretending to the mundane. In fact, they're so good at it that they've become bored with both their suburban lifestyle and their marriage.
Everything changes, however, when the two are independently assigned by their respective employers to take out the same man. Benjamin Danz (Adam Brody) is in the custody of law enforcement. He's got information neither agency wants to be made public, and so both institute a hit on Mr. Danz. In the course of making the hit, John and Jane get in each other's way. Still without any clear knowledge of who the other is, the pair are both assigned to kill the other so as to tie up any loose ends and get rid of possible witnesses in the Danz assignment. It's not long before cover stories begin to unravel, and John and Jane become aware of the identity of the next person they must kill. Being professionals, they're not about to let a little think like their marriage get in the way of a job!
John's co-worker, Eddie (Vince Vaughn), enjoys an "I told you so!" moment when it's discovered that Jane is a threat that must be removed, but quickly rallies to help John finish the job. Meanwhile, Jane's co-worker, Jasmine (Kerry Washington), works with Jane to take care of John once and for all. As the two struggle to stay alive while making sure the other doesn't, more and more truths come to light. And those truths provide some revelations that prove more than a little surprising for both.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been rumored to be involved with each other off the screen since meeting on the Mr. & Mrs. Smith set. Once having seen the pair in the film, it's hard to blame those who think that an affair is likely: their chemistry is incendiary. I've seen bad chemistry onscreen of course, but have usually attributed so-called good chemistry to good acting. Although both Pitt and Jolie are just fine in their roles here (not to mention fine to look at!), the heat between the two is far more than mere dramatic ability. As I told one man on the way out of the theatre, if the two aren't having an affair, they should be! Meanwhile, Vince Vaughn is hysterical as a man whose reactions are never less than much too much, regardless of the circumstances.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith was directed by Doug Liman who, while not the most experienced action movie director in Hollywood, certainly has one blockbuster on his résumé in the form of The Bourne Identity (he's also been tapped, by the way, to helm the upcoming The Bourne Ultimatum). The droll delivery in some instances and the melodramatic flavor of other moments could have been a real mistake elsewhere, but in this film it only contributes to the whole. The editing is also quite effective, and certainly the special effects (including some beautifully rendered explosions and some incredible gun fights) are just terrific. Meanwhile, writer Simon Kinberg has redeemed himself with his clever and often funny script (his previous effort was the mediocre xXx: State of the Union).
Is Mr. & Mrs. Smith going to win any serious acting awards? Probably not. Is the movie going to educate you or inspire you? Unlikely. But let's go back to my initial question as to why we go see movies in the first place: We go to be entertained! We go to have fun. And Mr. & Mrs. Smith is quite entertaining, and a whole lot of fun. Those critics who pan the film based on its unreality or the shallow storyline (and it isn't particularly realistic or deep) are missing the point. I had a great time at the movies this week, and if you're able to let go of the restraints of reality long enough to enjoy the ride, you will, too.
POLITICAL NOTES: Anybody who doesn't think that people like Mr. & Mrs. Smith exist is naïve. In the real world, though, I strongly suspect that Mr. & Mrs. Smith are government employees. Sure, there are doubtless free agents out there who will kill for the right amount of money. But the true professionals are almost certainly backed by the resources only a government agency could provide. When you see this movie, the important thing to remember isn't whether or not such technology and weaponry exists in private hands, but that it almost certainly does in black budgets around the world. I don't know about you, but I don't find that particularly comforting...
FAMILY SUITABILITY: Mr. & Mrs. Smith is rated PG-13 for "scenes of violence, intense action, sexual content, [and] brief strong language." I think it would take a 12 or 13 year-old brain to really enjoy the movie anyway, so I'm inclined to consider the rating to be just about right. Aside from the violence (none of which involves graphic blood and guts, by the way), the various plot twists will doubtless prove more than little ones could follow. When you add that to the fact that much of the humor is quite adult in nature, it's best that you sit the little ones down in the venue showing Madagascar, and that you save Mr. & Mrs. Smith for your teenagers — and, if you're not too grown up to enjoy a movie just for the sake of a good time, you might save it for yourself, too.
Lady Liberty is a graphic designer and pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House, at http://www.ladylibrty.com. E-mail Lady Liberty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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