11 June 2005 | psi_fla
A wasted opportunity
No relation to the 1940's Alfred Hitchcock comedy of the same name, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is an actioner/comedy/thriller that manages to entertain in spite of some serious limitations.
John Smith (Brad Pitt) and Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) are not your typical married couple. (Yeah, I know, we've heard stories like this before, but this film's hardly original). They both live a seemingly normal life together, in a nice house in a nice neighbourhood. Both are trained assassins, but they don't even know the truth about one another. That is, until they are dispatched to kill the same target.
Shades of Alias, The Incredibles and True Lies consistently surface, from the deceptions to the violence to the thrills. What differentiates Mr. & Mrs. Smith from those other works is its sense of fun.
Director Doug Liman showed with The Bourne Identity that he is adept with action, and films such as Go have shown his skill with plotting and character. Unfortunately the film's plot is all over the place, even when the film is at its most entertaining, and the character moments are rather ordinary.
It is saved mostly due to the sparring between the two leads. When Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are on screen together, competing with one another either verbally or physically, this film really soars. (Jolie has more than just atoned for her performance in Alexander here; for the first time in a long while, I found her tolerable.) This, in addition to some inventive set design and cool gadgets, is what effectively constitutes half, it not more, of the film. At one point I was convinced that this would be my first truly unqualified recommendation of the summer.
Alas, not long after John and Jane find each other out, the fun, laughs and excitement give way to a succession of eventually tedious chases and shoot-outs. After being very entertaining for long periods, the film begins to outstay its welcome very quickly. There are still some enjoyably quirky moments hidden in there, but I doubt that most viewers will still be as attentive by this point.
I would have appreciated Mr. & Mrs. Smith more if it had maintained the tone that came before the generic action scenes throughout the entire film. Then again, that probably wouldn't have filled up the two hour running length, would it? Mr. & Mrs. Smith is entertaining enough, I suppose, but in my opinion it's a wasted opportunity. And that's not the first of those I've come across this season.