Mr. & Mrs. Smith

2005, Movie, PG-13, 120 mins


A smarty-pants mix of screwball comedy and "Can you top this?" action-movie conventions, this sexed-up romp borrows liberally from PRIZZI'S HONOR (1985), WAR OF THE ROSES (1989) and TRUE LIES (1994) — in fact, just about everything but Alfred Hitchcock's battling-couples comedy MR. AND MRS. SMITH (1941). How's this for a pumped-up spin on the classic "meet cute"? In a war-torn Latin American backwater where the police are rounding up solo travelers on suspicion of being mercenary assassins, innocent vacationers John Smith (Brad Pitt) and Jane Jones (Angelina Jolie) pretend they're a couple to avoid trouble. By the end of the drunken, sex-sodden night, they're a couple for real. Six months later they're married and ensconced in two-car suburban splendor, commuting daily to their lucrative jobs, she at her all-girl, high-tech computer company, he at the contracting firm he runs with loud-mouthed partner Eddie (Vince Vaughn). Five years later — or maybe six, depending on who you ask — they're in marriage counseling, wondering where the spark has gone. Did the soul-sucking, libido-shriveling effects of everyday life in the 'burbs put a damper on the marital fires, or have the lies they've told each other to hide the fact that they are, in fact, both killers for hire eroded their relationship's very foundation? So far, so good: Screenwriter Simon Kinberg's dialogue is surprisingly witty, director Doug Limon keeps the story moving at a brisk clip and the sheer beauty of the Pitt-Jolie combo smoothes over any annoying hitches. And then it all goes terribly wrong. A client double-books a hit on one Benjamin Danz (Adam Brody) and, belying the old saw that two heads are better than one, the killers get in each other's way. In the aftermath of the botched job, the truth dawns on John and Jane; to save their hides and reputations, they turn on each other and the film turns into an exhausting series of ever-escalating guns 'n' poses action set pieces. Chemistry isn't enough to keep the lethal pyrotechnics going for close to two hours, and the bravura sequence in which the pair pursue each other all over their lovely house, demolishing it in the process, goes on long enough for you to start wondering how two crack shots never so much as wing each other. By the time the film winds itself up, the sophisticated fizz of its first 45 minutes has been smothered by explosive bombast. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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