||Mr. & Mrs. Smith
2005 - PG-13 - 115 Mins.
|Director: Doug Liman|
|Producer: Arnon Milchan|
|Written By: Simon Kinberg|
|Starring: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Adam Brody, Vince Vaughn |
|Review by: Harrison Cheung
|Official Site: www.mrandmrssmithmovie.com/|
‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ is a fun movie that does what Hollywood does best – pair up top stars and put them into a crowd-pleasing action/comedy/romance. Reminiscent of ‘Prizzi’s Honor’ and ‘War of the Roses’ as well as ‘The Incredibles,’ ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ is the story of a bored husband (Brad Pitt) and wife (Angelina Jolie) who each lead secret lives as highly paid assassins. The joke here is that John and Jane Smith unknowingly work for competing agencies and they are eventually assigned the task of bumping each other off.
Honey, did you take out the trash?
The secret identity humor set-up is bang-on as one of Hollywood’s hottest onscreen couples try to live a suburban life in a nice neighborhood of golf, minivans and landscaping. They live in a giant suburban house somewhere outside Manhattan, and have dinner and martinis at seven. They argue about new curtains and eat pot roast with peas. Since both are repressing their natural killer instincts in front of each other, husband and wife, after five or six years of marriage, are beginning to chafe at the charade.
This is easily Angelina Jolie’s movie as she overpowers Brad Pitt dramatically, if not physically. She’s a much more fluid actor than Pitt is now and it shows as she deals with her changing situation as secret agent to husband-killer with wide-eyed passion. Pitt, who has done some very good work (‘Kalifornia,’ ‘Seven’) in another decade, is happy to play John Smith as hen-pecked petulant. Al Bundy was more interesting and convincing as the unhappy and unsatisfied husband.
Directed by Doug Liman (‘Bourne Identity’), ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’s action scenes are cleverly choreographed. Both Pitt and Jolie look like they’re having fun when they’re out on a job. The first two thirds of the movie is a guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, once the big secret is out, and husband and wife are gunning for each other, the movie then shifts gears clumsily for a romantic resolution. Was their marriage a sham? Did each marry the other just as a cover? Or are they really in love? Want to guess?
The best exchange in the movie comes when the husband and wife, ask each other about their kill rates like sexual histories. It’s a clear homage to ‘Prizzi’s Honor’ when Kathleen Turner answers the same question with, “It’s not that many when you consider the size of the population.”
What’s also surprising about a big budget flick like this is the poor continuity editing. While the story is set in New York, there are some blatant shots of Los Angeles. There’re even freeway signs in the chase scenes that point to L.A. area exits as opposed to anywhere in New York. And gun battles in the movie versions of Costco/HomeDepot are a little too blatant in the re-occurring ‘shoot-up-your-middle-class-suburbia-doldrums’ message.
While a movie like ‘War of the Roses’ showed husband vs. wife conflict as a cartoon violent morality tale, ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ lacks any dramatic depth or insight about this particular couple. For that, go rent ‘The Incredibles’ or ‘Prizzi’s Honor.’ Though funny and entertaining, we really don’t learn much more about these characters other than they are secret agents living secret lies.