'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' **** 061505
Theatrical Review (2005)

The Work = ****
I saw 'Star Wars Episode III' when it premiered and have seen it again more recently. Natalie Portman is a skilled actress and Hayden Christensen showed some talent in the film 'Shattered Glass'. Watching them together as a couple in 'Episode III' there seems to be zero emotional ties between them. They seem to have the acting chops so maybe it was director George Lucas’s direction or maybe it was the silly dialogue.

I bring that up because watching 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith', believed every seen between the film’s two stars; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They play the titled married couple and are both spies, both highly skilled, and both unaware of the others occupation. The film opens with the two in marriage counseling and it sets the tone for the movie perfectly. This film is a tale of a couple repairing a failing marriage that is disguised as a spy movie.

Actually, that is the film’s saving grace because its plot, especially towards the end, doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense. Throughout the film the marriage counselor sessions are revisited and they help keep 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' coherent. The arc in it is more or less not so much in the story but in the Smith's relationship. This, of course, has now made for marketing gold.

Pitt ended his marriage to Jennifer Aniston and he was seen socializing with Jolie. That combined with the film's trailer helped to fuel rumors of an affair. The studio execs must have been kiddy with delight as the buzz grew and grew. It is funny that the buzz between the two stars of this film helped to promote it and arguably gain ticket sales while the buzz surrounding Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez arguably helped to burry their film, 'Gigli'. For what ever it is worth, I doubt they had a relationship off screen. Jolie has talked about her father's unfaithful nature when it came to his marriage with her mother and has said she could not stand having an affair. That combined with her not being very shy about talking about her sex life makes me think the two just got along really well. *

For me, I started following this film's development before Jolie was even involved. I am a big fan of 'The Bourne Identity'. Director Doug Liman found a fresh take on the spy genre and managed to make exciting action sequences that were A) fun to watch and B) hard hitting without seeming deliberately tamed down to fit into the PG-13 rating that it had. Actually I've been a fan of Limon's since he did 'Swingers'. The film he did after it, 'Go', is also a good film.

After he did 'The Bourne Identity' I was itching to see what he would do next. I started following the production of 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' as much as I could online. Originally Nichol Kidman was opposite Pitt as Mrs. Smith but had to pull out, I believe do to some scheduling conflicts. It is interesting that Limon has now, with the release of 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' made two, fresh, and entertaining takes on the spy genre. The James Bond movies need that kind of invention.

I think 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' falters a bit more than 'Bourne Identity' did but that may had to do with much of the material in 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' seeming more suited to an R rated film than a PG-13 one. Watching the film, a couple of sequences seemed trimmed down. I went back and watched some of the trailers and there was footage in the trailers from the final shootout that was missing in the film. Looking on IMDB they mention a sex scene that was removed to get a PG-13 rating. Maybe there will be an unrated DVD release.

So, when it's all said and done 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' is an easy one to recommend. Pitt and Jolie carry this film. Their interaction and timing keep it going. Director Liman skillfully directs them through some very entertaining sequences and shows once again that he can make a winner out of something that I suspect many other directors would have not been able to. The plot is disjointed and towards the end it starts to get a little long but over all this is an enjoyable film about to people trying to save a marriage.... Two people that just happen to be hired killers.


*031907 Long overdue in posting this... ok, so I was wrong about Pitt and Jolie having an affair... :)

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