Summers are always full of disappointment, especially to someone who sees just about every movie that comes out in a year. Every year the studios offer bigger and better things with cool trailers and intense promotion, but very few blockbusters meet expectations. Then there are those like "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" that look questionable from the outset. The cast is good and the premise is entertaining, but you just have that nagging feeling that something is not quite right. And then you watch the movie only to discover that it is much better than it ever looked. Such is the case with "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, two of Hollywood's biggest commodities despite a series of disappointing films (financially or otherwise) over the last few years, are enough to get the blood boiling. Regardless of which sex your interest lies (or if you have an interest in both then it's double the pleasure), the screen is continuously filled with two hot stars. There's one thing going for it. Two, for the guys, they are literally trying to kill each other most of the movie (though as one can only expect they end up fighting with each other). Third, for the women, it's essentially a romantic comedy. What a way to appeal to all audiences.
Despite all this, I was skeptical when I saw the trailers for "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," about two enemy assassins who are married and who suddenly realize that they have essentially been hired to kill one another. Whether it was Jolie using cheesy spy gizmos or merely the fact that this film looked like a rip-off of "True Lies," one of my personal favorites, I wasn't that excited for it. I wanted to see it, but I didn't want to see it that badly. Needless to say, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is funny, mildly exciting and consistently entertaining, even if the third act isn't completely solid.
The action doesn't come for much of the first act, but the amazing thing is that "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" really doesn't need the action all that much. The movie is funny from beginning to end; generally not laugh-out-loud funny, but consistently humorous (and I'd rather have that than a movie with a few big laughs and not much else). The jokes do contain a fair amount of one-liners, but Pitt and Jolie are good enough that they are actually able to pull them off. On that note, their chemistry really does sizzle on screen - isn't it nice that the decline of Jennifer Aniston's marriage has been captured on film? If there are shortcomings in the screenplay, the chemistry between the two leads covers it up very nicely.
As for the action, it's pretty good, though when you have two lead actors fighting against one another whom you know will eventually team up, it's hard to get too into things. After all, you know that Jolie's not going to kill Pitt, and vice versa, so why should we care? That being said, director Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity") has made the most of it and the action sequences are pretty fun and as brutal as you'd expect from a PG-13 movie (yes, guys, that means no naked Jolie).
But leave it to me to pick apart a movie I thoroughly enjoyed for the most part, so here we go. First off, the casting. Liman obviously had too much say in the casting decisions, because he hired Adam Brody (Seth in "The O.C.," a show Liman has directed episodes of) and Vince Vaughn, who he directed in "Swingers," as his main supporting members. I like both actors and find them very funny, but didn't feel they fit in very well here. Both actors are wasted and didn't fit within the confines of a spy movie - even a comedy. And where their characters weren't developed enough, that leads me to my only real beef with the movie - the third act.
There have been many worse third acts, and for a popcorn movie the one in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" isn't half bad. That being said, Liman never finishes the movie adequately enough. A main villain is present, but he is never incorporated into the picture. We catch a glimpse of him early on, but he is never brought in at the end. Instead, we are given what starts out as a cool action finale and what turns into a cheap, whoa-we-suddenly-ran-out-of-money-so-let-us-cut-the-picture-short-by-five-minutes ending. An unrealistic and slow-motion montage is all we're given, and then the movie's over. I'm pretty sure that if you kill off a bunch of henchman but never go after the man pulling the strings, he'll just come at you again. Am I wrong on this? Could an additional five minutes not have wrapped up everything? What the hell?
Now that my ranting is over, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is a surprisingly entertaining and fun picture both men and women can enjoy. It isn't perfect and I wouldn't be surprised that in a few years no one remembers it, but it's a guilty pleasure worth seeing in theaters.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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