Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

"Excellent"

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Review


It will go down in infamy as the film that split up Brad and Jen -- assuming that 10 or 20 years from now people still remember the headline-making legacy of the ill-fated Pitt-Aniston marriage.

Unfortunately for gossip fiends, Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn't really bear any mark of Angelina Jolie as homewrecker or of Brad Pitt as any more infatuated with the lippy screen queen than any normal, red-blooded man ought to be. And fortunately for moviegoers, Smith (wholly unrelated to the 1941 Hitchcock film of the same name) is a funny and wild ride, an impressive blend of black comedy, ultraviolence, and romance that we rarely get to see -- and which rarer still is any good.

It's an extremely high-concept setup, flirting with the point of absurdity and edging back from the brink: Pitt is John Smith, Jolie is his wife Jane. Both work as assassins, and both think their spouse is none the wiser. It's a marriage of convenience so each can run off to kill someone then be back in time for dinner, but it's all based on lies (and secret stashes of guns, bombs, and throwing knives hidden throughout the house). Eventually, the scam unravels, and the Smiths find themselves tasked with offing each other.

Sure, you saw that twist coming, and Smith makes few apologies for being more about the killing than the writing, but underneath the gore (and there's plenty of it), you'll find a surprisingly witty film punctuated by some truly humorous bits, even if the jokes tend toward the obvious and the plot drifts into a familiar repetition of kill/kiss/laugh/kill/kiss/laugh. If The Long Kiss Goodnight had been thought out a little more fully and with an ear for comedy, it might have ended up looking something like this. Director Doug Liman -- once associated with comedies like Swingers has now become the go-to director for the thinking man's action film (see also The Bourne Identity).

Pitt and Jolie are both good-with-moments-of-greatness, acting very professional and having fun with the bone-dry humor of their roles. But it is, as usual, Vince Vaughn who steals the show as a compatriot of Pitt's (don't waste too much energy trying to figure out if he's John's boss, who's "good" and who's "bad," or much of anything else... the meta-information is never really unveiled and doesn't stand up to much scrutiny). Vaughn is mainly just playing Vaughn, but his interplay with Pitt and with his perpetually off-screen mother is priceless. It's worth the price of admission on its own.

Be advised that Smith is a deeply violent film, and fans expecting a lighthearted romance with a smattering of playful gunfire will be shocked to see Pitt kicking the living crap out of Jolie -- though rest assured she holds her own in the end. (Jolie gets about three times as many punches in on Pitt than he gets on her. Double standard? You be the judge.)

If you're the kind of person that sees the humor in the Darwin Awards, videos of people falling over and breaking limbs, and a good old-fashioned kick to the nuts, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a film for you. It certainly doesn't hurt if you think that Angelina Jolie is smokin' hot.

A new unrated DVD offers deleted scenes, alternate ending, and feature-length commentary, plus a second disc of making-of extras.

Chop chop!



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Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

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