The pitch for
Mr. & Mrs. Smith must have looked really good. Two
assassins marry, then get assigned to kill each other. For
black comedy, it's gold. John Huston mined the concept for
an Oscar-winning movie, Prizzi's Honor. Heck, it
even pretty much sums up the backstory for Spy Kids,
and that movie worked out all right.
nobody really bothered to flesh things out beyond that initial
pitch. So while the final product has some entertaining
moments, they can't stop you from realizing this movie is
about nothing at all.
Unless you count
it being about how two beautiful and talented actors can
be used by a director to cover up that he has nothing to
direct, not even a moral point of view. The disappointment
comes even more keenly when you look back at director Doug
Liman's resumé and see Swingers, Go
and The Bourne Identity. How could this guy go wrong?
not even easy to turn off your brain and let this wash over
you, like you could with the bizarre mess of Charlie's
Angels 2. There, you still felt dirty, but you knew
that the film at least had no pretension. (Okay, I'm still
hoping that was the truth.) This one purports to be...well,
it's hard to tell what it purports to be. In fact, the script
became so repetitive and incoherent that it's hard to remember
how it actually ended.
Mr. and Mrs.
Smith asks you to get behind these two being killers
without ever actually telling you who they kill and why.
At one point, Angelina Jolie's team (mysteriously all women)
work out of a trailer labeled United Fried Chicken, a possible
veiled reference to the CIA. Possible. But it seems more
likely that Mr. and Mrs. Smith are both assassins without
any particular agenda beyond the highest bidder.
even be forgivable if Liman had still followed certain narrative
rules, but this may be the first movie that insists that you've
seen the trailer, so it doesn't need to bother with any pretense.
\The only people that spend any time not knowing Mr. and Mrs.
Smith are assassins are each other. We all know from the get-go,
and so does the script. Thus, their meet cute isn't even cute,
though considering it's Brad Pitt and Jolie, it is
the movie reaches the crux and they decide they must kill
the other, it goes downhill. (Not that the set-up set a
high point, either, using The O.C.'s Adam Brody
as a goat so obvious he might as well be eating a tin can.)
Though Liman stages their hunting each other within the house
with some energy, once it turns into them versus their agencies,
everything gets repetitive. In addition, the script would
have us believe that in five years of marriage, neither of
them ever went to the other's office, nor even really know
where the other works at all. This is a parody of a parody
of a bad marriage.
dim grasp of connubial discontent as a convenient plot device
extends to the production design, which trades on clichés
rather than sense. John and Jane Smith are young, single
and individually pointedly well-off as a result of their
career choice, yet immediately go for a huge house in the
suburbs rather than a trendy apartment. Despite clearly
not wanting children, Jane drives a mini-wagon, and
John a rather staid sedan. Who is supposed to be providing
cover for whom and why?
pops up, a relief but still wasted, and though his character
works for John Smith, his lifestyle is much less ...successful.
From all evidence, that's for no other reason than because
it makes for easy jokes about him living at home with his
mother. Don't be fooled; Vaughn works hard for every laugh,
and deserves the ones he gets. But this movie did him no
did, obviously, favor Pitt and Jolie if the rumors are true.
They do have an easy chemistry that makes you long for a
better movie. I hope the rumors are true, because then at
least Mr. & Mrs. Smith would have been responsible
for two people having a good time.