Director: Doug Liman
With: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie
Runtime: 120 min
It looks like the domestic scene so typical of modern relationship films. A couple who seem to have it all, looks, money and style, sitting across the dinner table from each other and quite deliberately not saying anything. However, there’s a twist… Most failing marriages aren’t accompanied by an oven full of hi-tech weaponry or a toolshed full of grenades.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith follows John and Jane Smith, married for half a decade but now suffering ‘marriage fatigue’ and a loss of passion. But under the well-mannered veneer of suburban sits an explosive secret – they’re both top assassins working for rival agencies. This secret is the basis of what is tearing their marriage apart but everything changes when they both get assigned – somewhat predictibly you might argue – each other as their next targets.
What follows is an excellent example of how a big dumb movie should be done. It follows the ever-reliable template of guns, explosions and car chases and it does it very well. The guns are huge, the explosions would make Jerry ‘Bang’ Bruckheimer jump and the chase scene nearly equals Liman’s Mini chase from The Bourne Identity. And yet it also has hidden depths. Liman proved his action calibre with The Bourne Identity but his roots lie in slick and ironic indie comedies such as Swingers and Go and he brings this sensibility to Mr. and Mrs. Smith as the bickering banter between the leads fairly sizzles with darkly barbed quips.
Speaking of the leads, how are they? Well they ain’t bad to look at for a start and their sexual chemistry (while unsurprising in the wake of Pitt’s divorce from Jennifer Aniston) is electric. Pitt, as usual, plays it cool-but-goofy with a winning smile but it is Jolie who really comes outsmelling of roses. One gets the feeling that the Tomb Raider films were just training for this as she gets to play a proper kick-ass heroine with quips to match.
Obviously it’s not perfect, there are several moments that feel slightly uncomfortable, not least the moment where John gives Jane a surprisingly savage kicking (thankfully off-screen). While this is not blatantly shown, the implied violence feels a little extreme despite the 15 certificate. Also, while Pitt and Jolie have a considerable amount of chemistry and screen presence, they seem to struggle somewhat with some of the comedy, meaning that some potentially excellent lines are lost.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith is unashamed action-movie fun and, lets be honest, with two such obscenely attractive leads, deep philosophy was never going to be the most important aspect. Disengage you brain, sit back, and enjoy.