Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) / Action-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, language, and sexuality
Running Time: 120 min.
Cast: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington, Keith David (voice)
Director: Doug Liman
Screenplay: Simon Kinberg
Review published June 12, 2005
Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a potentially smart romantic comedy buried underneath too many layers of dumb summer blockbuster action extravaganza. If all you're looking for is a little jocularity, a little romantic chemistry, and a whole lot of bullets and explosions in your summer movies, you'll probably get what you pay for here. Still, even though it does deliver the TNT-strapped goods with a wallop, this thick-headed concoction fails to generate true excitement because it never establishes its central characters as anything more than mere playthings meant to push forward the high-concept premise. It's a one-joke film that might have worked better as a short skit or featurette, but at two hours in length, the material is spread too thin to keep it from inducing boredom, regardless of how many explosions director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Go) flings at us in order to alleviate the oft recurring lulls.
Brad Pitt (Ocean's Twelve, Troy) and Angelina Jolie (Sky Captain, Taking Lives) play a couple of assassins working for opposing organizations. Their marriage has proceeded without either of them aware of the other's occupation, until they are both contracted by their respective bosses to snuff the other out. Soon, the real test comes not in who will win in the high-caliber domestic dispute, but in whether or not their feelings for each other will supersede their loyalty to their organizations and their lust for the high-priced hit.
If you cut Mr. and Mrs. Smith down to its most basic principle, it is one-third Prizzi's Honor, one-third The War of the Roses, and one-third Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and it is all three of these films in almost successive fashion. Shortly before the release of the film, there was much ballyhoo regarding the off-screen romance between Pitt and Jolie, and how it translated into natural chemistry on-screen, and with both actors quite skilled in snarky banter, I will admit that they do perform quite well together in competitive mode. If only the low-aiming script by Simon Kinberg (xXx: State of the Union, X-Men 3), rumored to have undergone several rewrites at the hands of others, saw their characters as living, breathing human beings instead of mere comedic devices in the singular big joke the film is built on, and perhaps we would have seen even more fireworks in the romance department. Sadly, the only fireworks the producers of this film think we really want to see are the non-stop displays of gunshots, mayhem, and explosions that are liberally explored in all their destructive glory in scene after scene right up until the very end.
I did enjoy some parts of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, enough to think it wasn't a complete waste of my time, but if I were to narrow down the things I liked and remove all the excess, this would be a half hour film at most. 30 minutes of good stuff and 90 minutes of filler doesn't exactly a good movie make, so I have no choice but to declare this a teaser film that should, and easily could, have been far more than just summer popcorn fare. Another twist in the plot, another element in the narrative, and a bit more oomph in the character development, and this one had the talent in front and behind the camera to deliver success. Ultimately, the movie ends up being a lot like the marriage of John and Jane Smith itself -- the more time we spend with them, the less we feel we truly know them.
©2003 Vince Leo