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Mr. and Mrs. Smith Movie Review

originally posted many years ago

I don't read gossip columns and I don't watch "Access Hollywood," so I don't know or care if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have started some home-wrecking romance after meeting on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. But I do know that Pitt and Jolie, two actors admired for their talent and sex appeal, create an onscreen heat unlike anything the movies have seen for years. To use the ambiguous cliches, they have incredible "chemistry," they really "click." To put it bluntly, they're sexy as hell together. It might be brilliant casting, it might be the actors' character choices, it might even be the real thing—the point is, however Pitt and Jolie achieve it, the spark between them makes Mr. and Mrs. Smith sizzle.

Here we have a movie with a clever premise that gets one thing right and a lot of things wrong. What director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) did right was to encourage his two actors to embrace and even flaunt their legendary sex appeal. In Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Pitt and Jolie know that they're sexy, the kind of sexy that humility always hides but wholly defines both of them in our fantasies. Verbally, physically, and emotionally, these two actors dance for us (literally and figuratively) in a way that plucks the line between innuendo and eroticism like a bowstring. Pitt and Jolie make such a livewire couple that it almost dispels the film's faults.

Almost. What Mrs. and Mrs. Smith does wrong, we realize, is everything else. The muddy action sequences, the forgettable supporting characters, and the bloated two hour running-length drastically thin Pitt and Jolie's sexual tension. What could've been a sexually implosive thriller, worthy of the breathlessly erotic train scene from North By Northwest, turns out to be only barely worth the price of admission.

You gotta dig the premise, though. Pitt and Jolie play John and Jane Smith, a normal (if unusually attractive) married couple that has long since lost the magic. They love each other, but there's just no mystery anymore, no spark—they never say it, but they find each other hopelessly boring. What John and Jane don't know is that they're both undercover assassins working for opposing firms. For six years they've been together in ignorance, until one day when their bosses accidentally double-book a hit. Because they've discovered each other's identities, both firms order John and Jane to take each other out. but can either of them pull the trigger on their own spouse? Or has the marriage just been a camouflage cloak for both of them?

Basically, anytime the Smiths have a conversation, this film is a riot. Whether it be the simple, double-layered conversations they have before they find each other out, or the ruthless name-calling that ensues while they fight to the death, Pitt and Jolie savor every juicy line of dialogue that writer Simon Kinberg throws their way. The best scene is the dinner conversation they have just after they've both learned the truth. He knows she's an assassin, and she knows he is too, and I think they both know that they know, but they both still play it cool at the table. "How was work honey?" "Oh, we ran into a snag at the office." "Oh, is everything under control?" "No, not yet...but soon."

Oh, and how about that painfully sexy and, shall we say, disarming tango scene? There are a million moments when Mr. and Mrs. Smith lights up, and it's always the result of a little look Pitt and Jolie share, a slight touch, or even a hungry embrace. You feel something when these two are together, some sort of smoldering power between their eyes that you can't quite describe and could never, ever duplicate.

How strange that a small kiss between Mr. and Mrs. Smith is more exciting than any of the film's loud shoot-outs or car chases. The action in this movie is downright terrible. Noisy, indistinct and usually filmed on one of those damn shaky handheld cameras, there's never a single explosion that generates more heat than Pitt and Jolie's chemistry.

Ultimately, Mr. and Mrs. Smith overstays its welcome, and the story drags on and on long after the premise has exhausted its potential. The last half-hour or so, where an obligatory plot twist sends the film into a tailspin, is some of the most unnecessary cinema I've seen all year. But the electricity, my god the electricity, between the two leads is unbelievable, and probably worth your money. Plus, for those of you who do indeed read the gossip columns, I think curiosity alone will ensure a good time at this movie.

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