Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
Directed by Doug Liman

Artistic Value: * * *
Entertainment Value: * * * ½

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John (Brad Pitt) and Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie), an affluent but often bickering married couple living in a sumptuous suburban home, are both assassins, although neither is aware of the other's profession. When they are given the same target to kill, and consequently get in one another's way, so that neither is able to murder their intended victim, each of them is ordered by his employer to execute the person who interfered in this hit. Each then sets out to discover who his new target is, and both soon learn that they are going to have to kill one another.

Filled with wild, often impossible fight sequences and pervaded by a sly comic tone, Doug Liman's Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a surprisingly amusing, often thrilling film that, while never inspired, is almost certain to engage the viewer. Instead of merely cobbling together another action adventure, or even another trite comedy, the director has come up with a charmingly mean-spirited and invariably entertaining mélange.


The predictable tale the director relates is never fascinating, but it is suffused with so much style, humor, and sex appeal that it is never boring either. Unless, of course, the moviegoer is such a pompous pseudo-intellectual that, convinced of his own sophistication, he is unable to enjoy any simple pleasure, it is probable that he will be caught up in the protagonists' verbal and physical sparring, in their deadly but odd life-style, and in their endless lies.

Fortunately, the movie's numerous action sequences, while they may never be remarkably accomplished, are well choreographed and genuinely exciting. What is more, as fun as it is to see Mr. Smith leaping onto his wife's car, the pair shooting at assailants while racing down a freeway, or their taking on an army of killers in an enormous home improvement store, such sequences are made even more enjoyable by their being informed by the movie's nearly omnipresent humor. These scenes, consequently, simultaneously stir up a real sense of exhilaration in the viewer and make him laugh.

Lastly, I should add that both of the film's leads, as well as its supporting players, give enjoyable performances. Even though their dishonest, murderous characters are entirely despicable, Pitt and Jolie are able to involve the viewer with the couple so that he feels concern for them. Even if he does not, both have such vibrant on screen personas that they are always captivating to watch. Pitt has a strangely awkward, slightly inept charm that is genuinely endearing, but Jolie's nearly overwhelming sensuality and stronger presence more than enable her to hold her own against him. Both greatly add to the movie's appeal.

I cannot honestly say that Mr. & Mrs. Smith is more than a pleasant diversion, but it is a fun, exciting, and funny movie.

Review by Keith Allen

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