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Paul Greenwood

Published June 10th, 2005 | by Paul Greenwood

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Review

Classification: 15 Director: Doug Liman Rating: 3.5/5

John and Jane Smith (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) are a comfortably middle class couple whom we first meet as they attend marriage guidance counselling. They’re in a rut after five (or six) years of marriage, thoroughly bored with each other and their suburban lifestyle. He’s an engineer, she’s in computers and their relationship has all the spark of their dinner table peas. What neither of them know is that the other is in fact a highly skilled assassin and that they work for rival shadowy agencies – John for a shambling outfit that looks like it operates out of a garage in New Jersey, specialising in dirty hits in grubby pubs, Jane for a super high tech and sophisticated organisation that takes an altogether classier approach to their work.

But when they both end up on a botched mission to eliminate the same target, their bosses give them each 48 hours to find out who the other is and remove them. As cat and mouse investigation turns to discovery followed by light hearted pursuit and eventually all out war, the pair finally get some excitement back into their marriage, even if that means knocking the living daylights out of each other or trying to blow a spouse’s head off.

If you were paying attention during the trailer, you’ll have a pretty good idea of where it’s all headed, and unpredictable is certainly not an adjective that could be applied. Nor do logic and common sense play any part in the proceedings whatsoever, but director Liman knows this fine well and doesn’t seem to much care. The compensation is that we get to revel in two superstars at the top of their game, trading punches and wisecracks to tremendous effect, while ensuring that Mr. & Mrs. Smith is one of those films that survives more or less on sheer star wattage alone. With lesser lights it could have been a seen-it-all-before thriller (Ecks vs. Sever anyone?), but put the two hottest people on the planet in it and watch it ignite.

But it’s not just chemistry and sex appeal – they’re both damn fine actors who deliver terrifically sly comedic performances, particularly Jolie, who proves once again that she is good and that it’s just her films that are bad. The downside to this top heavy parade of megastardom is that secondary characters barely get a look in. Granted, this doesn’t really matter that much as, with a little bit of examination, not one of them makes a lick of sense anyway.

Liman brings the same gritty quality to the early action sequences as he did to The Bourne Identity, and this is quite a bold choice for a film of this nature where slick and polished tends to be the norm. It works well though, with the Smith’s vicious battle round their lovely home the clear highlight so that, even when the odd flashy effect is utilised, it’s still grounded in reality (relatively speaking, obviously).

There are plenty of decent chuckles to be had and a few laugh out loud moments, both physical and verbal. Unfortunately, the good marks earned during the first three-quarters of the movie are almost thrown away by an all action finale that brings new meaning to preposterousness. Best try not to think about it too much and you won’t get hurt. Total nonsense then, but a hell of a lot of fun.


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