Review by Mark Walters


Take two of the hottest actors in Hollywood, and pair them up in a big-budget action flick.  It's one of those formulas that happens every summer in theaters.  But MR. & MRS. SMITH has received an unusually large amount of hype, mainly because of Brad Pitt's spilt with Jennifer Aniston, and rumored off-screen relationship with co-star Angelina Jolie.  So their new film has become even more anticipated, simply because these two are the hot topic of discussion.  Does it live up to the hype?  Or more importantly, is is even a good film?

The film opens with John (Pitt) and Jane (Jolie) Smith visiting a marriage counselor, revealing that things in their relationship aren't quite as great as they could be.  Through flashback we learn that these two met under mysterious circumstances in Bogotá, Columbia about five or six years ago.  They fell in love, and got married soon after.  Initially everything seemed terrific.  But as the years passed, John and Jane found their "work" consuming their lives, and their daily routine at home had gotten just plain boring.  Little does each of them know that they both secretly spend their days working as undercover spies for unnamed government organizations.  John thinks Jane is just an ordinary working woman, and Jane doesn't suspect John is anything more that a simple working man.  Over the years they have both managed to keep their respective lives from getting in the way.  But when they each get assigned to eliminate the same target, suddenly things get really complicated.  After doing a bit of research, John learns that Jane actually tried to kill him during the hit, and Jane learns the same of John.  Both of these attempts were little more than self-defense, but the appearance convinces them otherwise.  So now these two know each other to in fact be living a lie, and start to feel that their own lives may be in danger thanks to one another.  So can two people that are so highly trained to kill possibly survive each other?

Now I must admit when I first saw the trailers for this film, I really thought it looked lame.  We've seen this type of story before, with flicks like THE WAR OF THE ROSES and WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?  Not to mention that the spy couple was pretty well developed in TRUE LIES, making this seem like a copy of that premise.  There's even a tango scene!  Don't get me wrong, I like Brad Pitt as an actor, and Angelina Jolie is always fun to watch.  But there was something about those trailers that just looked dumb.  Then I realized Doug Liman was directing it.  Now Doug Liman is greatness.  Films like the classically funny SWINGERS, the engaging and intense GO, and the surprisingly good BOURNE INDENTITY proved this guy knows how to make a good movie.  So I reserved judgment, and I'm happy to say that once again Liman has brought us a great flick.  Sure the concept isn't anything brilliant, but as a summer popcorn flick, this movie is pretty well done.  Those who like spy films will enjoy the first half quite a bit.  We're treated to some cool visuals involving the Smith's secret hideouts and hiding places for weapons.  It's one of those things that TRUE LIES never touched upon, but when you're a spy, surely you have to have some gear hidden around your home, even if you don't want your significant other to know about it.  Brad Pitt is funny and charming, without being his usual overly-confident self.  Here he's more of an everyman, which is kind of refreshing.  Jolie is, well, hot.  She plays her character serious, and yet typical of that American housewife stereotype.  Both of them do such a great job showing convincing sides of normalcy, that it makes it that much more cool when the spy side comes out of them.  Vince Vaughn does a fine job of providing some comical moments as Pitt's paranoid momma's boy buddy Eddie.  It's nice to have this character in the movie, so things never take themselves too seriously.  Some of the supporting actors are good, like Chris Weitz (at least I think it's Chris Weitz) as the unsuspecting next door neighbor.  Perhaps the only failed characters are a squad of female specialists that assist Mrs. Smith with her spy duties.  Their presence is a bit cartoony, which isn't unexpected in a movie like this, but Jolie is playing such a tough character that they often seem unnecessary.  I like the fact that the film spends some time dealing with the emotional effects of betrayal and lying to one another.  In many ways those acts are more offensive to these two that any sort of impending death.  One thing I noticed is that there are clearly some cut scenes, since certain moments elude to other characters or events we never get to see.  For instance, Keith David plays one of the agency bosses, who we see only for a split second in the reflection of a computer screen.  There had to be more scenes with him, but none of them are shown.  The resolution of the film is a little bit too convenient too, especially considering the circumstances we witness moments before.

Angelina Jolie, director Doug Liman, and Brad Pitt share a laugh between takes.

 Overall MR. & MRS. SMITH is a great time at the movies.  It has something for everyone.  Women will enjoy the romance, and guys will love the action.  Granted a lot of it is so implausible that we have to check our brain at the door, but hey, this is the time of the big summer action movie.  The storytelling is done well, which is to be expected from someone like Liman.  He's the only guy I know that can make a phenomenal chase scene using a minivan.  The film runs a tad long, but never gets boring, leaving you with an overall feeling of satisfaction.  If you want a fun time at the movies, this one will do the job. score - On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give MR. & MRS. SMITH an 8.

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