Mr. & Mrs. Smith

on June 10, 2005 by Annlee Ellingson
Aside from vying for the title of the two most beautiful people on the planet, John and Jane Smith (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) are like any other couple on their suburban street: They meet at home for dinner every night at seven, socialize with neighbors on weekends, squabble over new curtains. In five--no, six--years of marriage, their lives have become so routine that a typical mealtime conversation goes something like this: "Did you do something new?" "I added peas." But, unbeknownst to either, each provides cover for the other's clandestine career as a world-class assassin. When the Smiths are double-booked on the same target, their secret identities are revealed, and protocol requires that they take each other out.

The political configuration of the espionage underground in which the Smiths are embroiled is never fully explicated, such that one's understanding of who wants them to kill each other and why is vague at best. And, without a montage charting the devolution of their relationship from its steamy beginning, it's difficult to buy that this gorgeous couple is simply biding time in the chilly 'burbs. But these are quibbles for a film that deftly interlaces the sophisticated wit of Tracy and Hepburn with the ingenuity that director Doug Liman first brought to the action sequences in the "Bourne Identity" and a dramatic analogy for the challenges that any married couple faces.

The much-gossiped-about pairing of Pitt and Jolie here highlights the absurd mundanity of the characters' domestic lives. Each possessing an athletic ability that borders on the superhuman, the Smiths apply it around the house to dusting in high places and picking up the yard. Likewise, it's difficult to picture the A-list celebs who portray them engaged in such tedium. It's delightful, then--when cloaks are cast off and daggers drawn--to watch their interactions catch fire.

Meanwhile, Liman continues to reinvigorate the action-thriller genre with verité-esque handheld camerawork and innovative fight choreography. Here he applies a delicately humorous touch to the Smiths' hand-to-hand-combat-cum-love-scene that turns their suburban home into a war zone, followed by a penultimate car chase in a minivan and the climactic shootout in a home-improvement store--set pieces that further underscore the film's marital metaphor--all to a clever soundtrack of ironic love songs. Starring Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington and Vince Vaughn. Directed by Doug Liman. Written by Simon Kinberg. Produced by Arnon Milchan, Akiva Goldsman, Lucas Foster, Patrick Wachsberger and Eric McLeod. A Fox release. Action-thriller. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content and brief strong language. Running time: 120 min

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