Mr. & Mrs. Smith – Movie Review (***)

(Originally posted on 6-14-05)

Have you ever had one of those moments when your most cherished values and beliefs are challenged almost to the point of breaking? Mr. & Mrs. Smith was just such a moment for me.

Watching the new film by Doug Liman (Swingers, Bourne Identity and Go) called into question many of my dearly held personal conceits and opinions – most specifically that both stars, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, were just pretty faces with no remarkable talent behind their glazed eyes.

A comedy of manners with a lot of guns and explosions and one relatively decent car chase, Mr. & Mrs. Smith takes a fairly played premise – a husband and wife living completely secret lives (in this case both are highly paid assassins working for rival assassination companies) find that they still love each other even after all of their secrets are revealed – and actually makes the roughly two hour running time pass by fairly quickly. The entertainment factor in the movie comes completely from the performances of the two stars and a classic Vince Vaughn performance in a supporting role.

The story itself, though it gets off to a pretty strong start as far as these kinds of things go, struggles a bit in the second act and then falls apart completely once it shifts into the third act. But again, surprisingly, the negative of the weak story telling, a lame plot twist and the complete disappearance of plot threads and secondary characters for no real reason, just don’t seem that important next to the engaging chemistry delivered by Pitt and Jolie.

I have always kind of thought of Pitt as smug, a bit superior, a tad stiff and a bit too Hollywood inside to deliver believably in his film roles (most especially in Ocean’s 11 and 12). In short – unlikable. Here, however, he comes across comfortably, personably and with a fair amount of Average Joe charisma which helps immensely in selling himself as a sympathetic character. I have never followed Jolie closely and have had no real interest in her in anything more than a purely generic physical sense, plus she generally comes across as a bit of a freak…. And that is what we get from her here, but in this case it works extremely well for the dynamics of the story and the relationship of the two protagonists.

Again, Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn’t work in any true sense of the word, but it does surprisingly achieve something more than just the slim sum of its parts through pure will power, energy and engaging star chemistry to be, at a minimum, a pretty entertaining flick – almost to the point of making me seriously consider thoroughly rethinking my own personal Hollywood Paradigm… but not quite.

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