Mr. & Mrs. Smith Review
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jole star as John and Jane Smith, world-class assassins both, who also happen to be married to one another. Given the secrecy that is part and parcel of their profession, they are unaware of each other's life outside of the home, each believing that the other is employed in an rather ordinary line of employment - he in a construction company, she on Wall Street. But death is their business and business is good, which leads to a certain degree of security and a nice house in a quiet suburban avenue.
Their marriage is, though, beginning to get a little stale and their sexual adventures are becoming a thing of the past, each one finding that their secret life offers all of the thrills they don't get at home. Until, that is, they are both contracted on the same hit, one Benjamin Danz (Adam Brody), which leads to a shoot out between the two and a realisation that they are in the same line of work. Their first, instinctive action is to assassinate the other but despite becoming aware of the deception within their marriage, they find that they may be in love after all. But assassins don't get to quit their job as do you and I and very soon they find that the hunters are being hunted...
I wonder if Jennifer Aniston owns a copy of Mr And Mrs Smith, or indeed Kevin O'Reilly. After all, the latter's review of this film resulted in one of the most bitter arguments in this site's history whilst the other resulted in a breakdown of the marriage of Aniston and Brad Pitt. But despite your thinking that one is a rather insular affair that ought to have been conducted in private and away from the audience that it attracted but, of course, you could say the same about stories of Pitt leaving Aniston for Jolie. However, unlike these reviews, which are really only popular for a matter of days, sometimes weeks, the Pitt/Aniston/Jolie affair is still being talked about. Even in the past week, there were stories of Pitt's family welcoming Jolie in such a way that they never did Aniston and how the one-time star of Friends is being shunned by her estranged in-laws.
Doug Liman must, therefore, have been feeling frustrated at how his film became overshadowed by this behind-the-scenes affair. In a year, perhaps two, from now, will we be remembering this film for what it is, being an action-packed romantic comedy, or will mention of Mr And Mrs Smith prompt one to say, "Wasn't that the one where Brad Pitt met Angelina Jolie?" Providing, that is, in a year or two from now, we remember who Pitt, Jolie and Aniston are.
Actually, that may not be such a bad thing for despite having watched this film only the night before writing this up, I'm finding it difficult to remember much about it. In fact, even as the film ended, I was pushed to remember how the storyline involving Vince Vaughn was resolved, if indeed it was. There's no doubt that Jolie, Pitt and Liman can do this without really trying but the impression left by Mr And Mrs Smith is that they actually did. Granted, Pitt and Jolie do have their eyes open for most of the film but as Mr Smith, Pitt adopts a rather bored insouciance that is at odds with his profession as a hitman, which, one suspects, would be fraught with enough danger to have him positively buzzing with adrenaline. Similarly, Jolie appears to be equally relaxed throughout and despite showing an occasional flash of passion, this viewer may be getting that confused with the awareness that she has over her own sensuality. Vince Vaughn, though, is the highlight of the film and all the laughs that come are from his lines. In particular, his on-edge telling-off of his mother is quite easily the funniest moment in the film and one's interest fades somewhat when Pitt leaves Vaughn's home to return home to Jolie.
It should, though, have been a return to lighter material for Doug Liman after the cold European suspense of The Bourne Identity but it's hard to say if he was awfully successful in doing so given that his direction is largely anonymous. Indeed, it could really have been any director-for-hire behind the camera for Mr And Mrs Smith with Liman looking so anonymous as to make one wonder if he simply phoned in his direction on some days or perhaps left some Post It notes on the set from a short visit the day before. Even when there is a sense of style, such as Jolie dressing as a dominatrix to carry out an assassination, a car chase on the freeway or a shootout in a shopping centre, it's all done with so little purpose that things just happen, as though the laws of physics were but a minor consideration. The car chase, for example, ends with a spectacular display of vehicular destruction but with two M5s spinning through the air in slow motion, it's hard to actually see what caused them to do so, unless the sight of an MPV in reverse on a freeway causes BMW's four-door supercar to spasm.
Mr And Mrs Smith is, though, very slick and is almost a perfect example of what you suspect comes very easily to a major Hollywood studio and a talented but easily distracted director such as Doug Liman. It's never boring, rarely unenjoyable but come a day or two later and it's difficult to remember much about it. Indeed, I suspect all that it will be remembered for is being the film on which Brad met Ange and it's hard to imagine Liman wanting to be remembered as little more than a matchmaker.
Being a very recent transfer of an only slightly less recent release, Mr And Mrs Smith comes to DVD without anything noticeable faults but, equally, with little to praise either. It's a good transfer but, really, it ought to be and whilst it would be easy to criticise any faults, if there were any, it's equally difficult to find things to praise.
The DTS audio track is, though, excellent and a noticeable improvement on the Dolby Digital track. In particular, the car chase is a standout scene but there's many others, including a fist fight in the Smith home with Express Yourself playing on the soundtrack. There's almost constant use of the surrounds throughout and the soundtrack is crisp and sharp with a good range.
The film is subtitled in English, as well as both of the commentaries and all of the other special features, with the exception of the trailers, which is something that 20th Century Fox ought to be wholly congratulated on.
Audio Commentary (1): Director Doug Liman and Screenwriter Simon Kinberg bicker, chat and flatter one another in this commentary that finds Liman complaining much too much about the restrictions that were placed on the production of the film due to the limited budget. With almost every passing minute, Liman makes another reference to the budget and soon, you won't be surprised to hear, this gets tiresome. In between his griping, though, this isn't even particularly interesting with neither of the contributors able to take their knowledge of the film and its production and turn it into something that will capture the interest of the audience. Put simply, it's just very, very dull.
Audio Commentary (2): Producers Lucas Foster and Akiva Goldsman, again, talk a great deal about the making of the film without ever making it sound interesting. This is, of course, due to their nature of the commentary - how often, you might well ask, were Foster and Goldsman actually on set - and so it all sounds very hands-off. The impression, then, is of two people based back in the office commentating on a film they really had very little involvement with, which produces an even less interesting commentary than that contributed by Liman and Kinberg.
Deleted Scenes (8m24s): Three scenes are included in this section, one of which - John And Eddie In The Kitchen (2m35s), in which Vince Vaughn offers a monologue on thirteen-year-old girls - would have been better had it been kept in the final cut. The other two are House Cleaning (3m28s) and HomeMade Store Shootout (2m19s), which is an alternate version of that which made it into the completed film.
Making A Scene (8m04s): Taken from the Fox Movie Channel, this short feature deconstructs a scene from the film that was originally proposed as a car chase but due to budget restrictions ends as a short drive outside of their house, which ends with Brad Pitt in the boot of his wife's car disappearing down a short drop and telling his wife, "We need to talk!" Doug Liman is the major contributor to this but Simon Kinberg, the writer, is also involved yet neither offers very much other than how the scene developed out of a need to end the first night in which John and Jane Smith realise that the other is also an assassin.
Trailers: Two are included here - Teaser Trailer (1m49s) and Theatrical Trailer (2m21s) - both of which are much as you might expect...clips from the movie, rock soundtrack, etc.
Granted, Mr And Mrs Smith doesn't really promise much but the closed world of the assassin has looked awfully interesting since Martin Blank first mentioned there being something akin to an entrance exam used to select those with a particular amorality. Even in that one line, Grosse Point Black had more intrigue and mystery than all of Mr And Mrs Smith.
Of course, this a comedy but it's not a terribly black comedy, despite death being the major motivation of these characters, at least in the first half of the film. Even when love replaces revenge, it's never stricken by it and, really, Mr And Mrs Smith never looks anything other than what it is - two major Hollywood stars dancing beautifully about one another but without so much as a slight flush of passion. It's lighthearted and slightly sweet but anything more than a movie with which to pass the time, which, five years from now, will be nothing but a footnote in the celebrity magazines. That's fitting, though, because it's all that it deserves.
Last updated: 23/05/2018 08:23:54