Job-related stresses can be murder on a marriage. John and Jane Smith (probably not their real names) learn this hard lesson in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a tongue-in-cheek actioner that borrows from True Lies and adds a dash of War of the Roses. It doesn’t really matter how derivative a movie like this is, as long as it keeps you laughing over all of the explosions. Mission accomplished.
John and Jane (tabloid couple du jour Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) have hit a rough patch in their marriage. They just don’t talk anymore. It doesn’t help that both spouses have jobs of the “If I told you, I’d have to kill you” variety. Quite a shock to wake up and discover that the person you’ve been married to for the last five (or six) years is a killer for hire, especially when you’re one, too. And it puts a real strain on the relationship when both of you are assigned to take out the same target and you wind up screwing up each other’s mission.
Trying to bump each other off in retaliation is probably not the most constructive way to work out their differences, but it does lead to some killer make-up sex. Unfortunately, their respective agencies aren’t happy with their failure to rub each other out and the couple has to put saving their marriage on hold long enough to stay alive.
This whole movie hangs on us, the audience, believing Pitt and Jolie first as a horny couple, than a loveless one, then as antagonists and finally as a happy, loving couple, all the while shooting, chopping, kicking and blowing stuff up. That’s a fairly tall order and frankly not one that can depend solely on the charisma of your two stars. Pitt and Jolie inject just enough depth and reality into their characters to bring us along for the ride.
This is one of those movies where its possible for three BMWs to chase a minivan down the freeway with guns blazing and somehow not attract any police attention. In other words, don’t think too hard about the plot. Still, Mr. & Mrs. Smith isn’t too brainless for a little visual wit. Two of the centerpiece action scenes involve a minivan and what looks like an Ikea store, two symbols of suburban domesticity, getting blown to pieces in the process.
This movie isn’t going win anyone any Oscars but I had fun watching it, almost as much as the film’s two stars looked like they had making it. That’s about all you can demand of a movie like this.