MR. AND MRS. SMITH
Starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Directed by Doug Liman
Opens Friday, June 10
Mr. and Mrs. Smith is the kind of sleek, Hollywood blockbuster that on the surface has everything going for it. An up-and-coming director (Doug Liman, who won praise for The Bourne Identity), a powerhouse cast including two of the hottest stars around, and the blessing of good gossip.
Fuelled by tabloid reports that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who play the titular suburban assassins for hire, are having a torrid off-screen romance, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is cashing in on the promise of letting fans see whether these stars sizzle on-screen. In short, they do. Unfortunately, the sparks that fly between Pitt and Jolie provide the most enjoyment in Limans respectable effort. Too smart for its own good, Mr. and Mrs. Smith awkwardly tries to blend romance, action and comedy into a smart cohesive whole, without fully succeeding.
Delivering a comedic variation on Eyes Wide Shut, Liman paints a picture of an unhappy, sexless marriage that happens to involve two of the sexiest people in the world. Like Kubricks dramatic take, which wryly cast Hollywoods then-golden couple, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, as a pair of unhappy Manhattanites, Liman cashes in here on having the new perceived "it" couple playing a miserable husband and wife. After all, if Jolie and Pitt can be rendered frigid by pristinely mowed lawns and white picket fences, where does that leave the rest of married America? According to Limans film, in a shrinks office.
The smart idea behind Mr. and Mrs. Smith that a failing marriage is unexpectedly reinvigorated when each spouse (both hired guns) is given an assignment to kill the other one is that rare instance of an idea that is too high concept to actually work. The premise, that two people whove grown apart, could finally start being honest with one another once theyre both revealed as liars because they each live a double life performing the same dangerous and morally questionable act, is wonderfully smart. Unfortunately, in trying to keep the concept light and the violence flashy, Mr. and Mrs. Smith never makes much of a case for the worth of its two essential characters.
Limans attempt to glamorize everything in the film, from his characters jobs to their inner-thoughts, makes them entirely superficial and, ultimately, harder to care about. Thankfully Pitt and Jolie have so much chemistry that, when the movie crumbles under its own smugness, you still cant keep your eyes off the screen.