Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 57
A husband and wife discover that they are both secret assassins working for competing firms.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith has some excellent strengths: Brad Pitt’s acting, a crisp and intelligent script, some exciting action, and perfect editing. It’s a shame that these good points—which rise to the level of brilliance at times—are neutralized by the silliness with regards to plot and premise in the middle of the movie, the over-the-top action in some critical scenes, and the weak acting by Angelina Jolie.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith has some sparkling moments of comedy and action, but they are not enough to help the silly jumble of scenes that muck up the middle and end of the movie. To its credit, Mr. & Mrs. Smith takes on a tricky premise. The idea that two assassins could be married and not know that their spouse was also a trained killer is tough to work with. For the first third of the film, the movie does a believable job with this. The comedy is well delivered and intriguing. The editing and flow of the movie brilliantly establish the relationship between Jane and John Smith.
Once the couple learns that they are assassins on competing firms, things unravel quickly. Jane and John mutually feel betrayed, and are torn between love and hatred for each other. The problem with this is that the characters all too casually flip back and forth between coldly trying to kill each to realizing that they love each other. Simply put, these scenes lack credibility, even in an action comedy. It’s just too hard to believe that the two characters would act to such extremes, and would vacillate between these extremes so easily. From here on out, things are just too hokey to be convincing. While the relationship and banter between Jane and John is certainly entertaining over the last third of the movie, the action and the plot generally get weaker.
The action in Mr. & Mrs. Smith is in many ways similar to the drama. Scenes range from solid to downright unbelievable. To start with the negatives, I can’t recall a movie since Lara Croft Tomb Raider where the villains have such bad aim, and the heroes have such good aim—unless the heroes are shooting at each other, that is, in which case they suddenly can’t hit a thing. It’s all too convenient and goes way over the top. Yes, I understand this is an action comedy that calls for light, escapist action, but the total lack of realism to many of the action scenes rips any suspense out of the drama. The ending, in particular, is an absurd showcase of Hollywood action taken to such an extreme that the impact of the scene is neutered.
Much of the action is well shot, however. There is a fantastic, creative, fast-paced car chase that brings both laughs and thrills. This scene is so good and interspersed with some genuinely funny dialog to the point that I have to include it as a candidate for Best Action Scene of All-Time. Other shooting scenes and fights are energetic, violent, and perfectly edited. There are some wonderful, shattering explosions. Some of the car stunts are impressive. Special effects are minimal, but there are some subtle and fitting effects with film speed and camera angles. Kudos!
The acting, script, and characters of the movie are solid, with one huge exception: Angelina Jolie. Brad Pitt nails the role of Mr. Smith, and makes up for a lot of Angelina Jolie’s ineffectiveness as Mrs. Smith. It’s a joy to watch him strike a perfect balance between cold and compassionate, and he is by far the acting highlight in this film. Jolie, on the other hand, doesn’t rip the soul out of her character like she does in the Tomb Raider movies, but at the same time she doesn’t reach anything above a mediocre performance. Fortunately, the screenplay really shines in spots, and helps support the drama. There are some hilarious lines, witty dialog, corny jokes, and some surprisingly thought-provoking quotes. Here’s one of my favorites, from Jane Smith during a counseling session at the beginning of the movie: “There’s this huge space between us, and it just keeps filling up with everything that we don’t say to each other.” The script is so good that it’s a shame that someone else other than Angelina Jolie couldn’t have gotten the role as Mrs. Smith; for every ounce of life that Pitt adds to the chemistry between him and Jolie, Jolie drains it out with her clunky acting. Having said that, Pitt carries Jolie enough that their relationship does achieve a convincing chemistry that brings their characters to life.
Lastly, our Babe and Hunk ratings. Jolie looks good in the film, and the movie at times takes care to display her sensuality. I still don’t find her as attractive as most, however. Pitt is strikingly handsome in the film, and drives up the Hunk rating.
In the end, Mr. & Mrs. Smith has some excellent strengths: Brad Pitt’s acting, a crisp and intelligent script, some exciting action, and perfect editing. It’s a shame that these good points—which rise to the level of brilliance at times—are neutralized by the silliness with regards to plot and premise in the middle of the movie, the over-the-top action in some critical scenes, and the weak acting by Angelina Jolie.
According to IMDB, the script went through fifty drafts.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Consistent Premise: 22
Body Count: 63
Time to First Dead Body: 20 minutes, 30 seconds
Special Effects: 57
[tags]Mr. & Mrs. Smith, movie review, action movie, film, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Doug Liman, Vince Vaughn[/tags]