Mr & Mrs. Smith

Despite the relentless tabloid gossip and negative buzz that has surrounded it, Mr & Mrs Smith is actually smarter and more entertaining than you might have been led to believe.

In a summer dominated by films like Revenge of the Sith and War of the Worlds, Mr and Mrs Smith was clearly designed to be a low tech alternative to the special effects driven blockbusters that usually dominate the season. The concept of the film is to mix a smart romantic comedy with a spy caper and despite the media gossip about whether the two leads did or didnít fall in love during filming, it is a surprisingly smart and enjoyable ride. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie display enough chemistry to keep us interested in the romantic side of the film and Doug Liman brings the same leftfield sensibilities to the action genre that made his name with films like Swingers and Go.

Whilst there are some rough edges the film wisely maintains a balance between bitchy banter and things getting blown up. The plot resembles an unholy mixture of Prizziís Honor and Limanís previous film The Bourne Identity, with a dash of James Cameronís True Lies. John Smith (Pitt) has been married to his wife Jane (Jolie) for 5 (or possibly 6) years and is finding domestic life to be suffocating and dull. His wife feels the same and the only excitement they get is from their day jobs. Unbeknown to each other, they are both highly paid assassins who have somehow managed to conceal their real jobs from each other. It is an improbable scenario to say the least, but given their considerable talents it is just about conceivable they could pull it off.

Once they discover each otherís identities the film turns into a wisecracking romp in the style of the Lethal Weapon films whilst retaining a smarter edge than the average mainstream blockbuster. One of the signs that this wonít be a high profile mess in the style of Gigli is the opening credit sequence which reveals a shrewder approach than one might expect from a star driven vehicle. It features the Smiths in a marriage counselling session and although the device is perhaps underused throughout the film, it certainly provides a good laugh at the very end where Liman and his stars seem to have a sly nod to the rumours surrounding the production.

As you might expect from a big budget film like this the action scenes are, for the most part, efficiently staged and one car chase sequence nicely juxtaposes the tension of a married couple with the chores of blowing away other hit men. There is good support too from Vince Vaughn as Pittís associate (his character is very similar to his breakthrough role in Limanís Swingers) although Jolieís colleagues are fairly wooden and forgettable. The lead couple display some refreshing comic touches amidst the explosions and punch ups and while the hi-tech weaponry often overshadows the characters the film is still a solid and amusing ride.

MORE DETAIL

> Official Site
> IMDb Link
> The LA Daily News on the whether all the gossip was good or bad publicity for the film.
> Some still images from the film courtesy of Blackfilm.com (notice the t-shirt reference to an earlier Pitt film)
> One of the many entries from Defamer on the whole ‘Brangelina’ affair.