Mr. & Mrs. Smith
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Doug Liman
scr Simon Kinberg
with Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington, Adam Brody, Chris Weitz, Rachael Huntley, Michelle Monaghan, Keith David, William Fichtner, Stephanie March, Theresa Barrera
release US/UK 10.Jun.05
05/US Fox 1h59

Guns blazing: Pitt and Jolie

pitt jolie vaughn

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Mr & Mrs Smith This slick crowd-pleaser is so enjoyable that, despite the silly gags and corny cliches, by the end we're hoping it becomes a franchise. Pitt and Jolie have superb on-screen chemistry, and the combination of comedy and action is just about perfect.

Sparks fly in more ways than one when John and Jane (Pitt and Jolie) meet amid violent chaos in (an offensively hackneyed version of) Bogotá, Colombia. After a whirlwind romance, they marry oblivious that they're both really high-tech assassins. Five or six years later, the secret has put a huge strain on their marriage. So when they're both hired to bump off a mob informant (Brody), things get suddenly messy. What follows is a bullet-strewn face-off that might actually save their marriage. If they survive.

Director Liman and writer Kinberg have a lot of fun setting up the film like a standard rom-com and not acknowledging the hitman twist until quite a ways in (although the ad campaign has already told us everything). From here they cleverly develop the battle of the sexes--Jane's company is completely staffed by women, while John works with a talkative buddy (Vaughn). And they also rely on the spark between Pitt and Jolie, which really ignites the sexy scenes (most notably a superb tango) and adds fire to both the action and comedy. They're an exceptional movie double act, relishing the lively dialog ('Happy endings are just stories that haven't finished yet') and diving into the scenes with a terrific sense of physicality.

Yes, their quick romance and marriage is extremely unlikely, especially for people in this profession. Yes, the film is contrived and broad and rather unoriginal. Yes, it builds to a massive John Woo-style shoot out--you almost expect a dove to flutter through at the end. But it's also slick and entertainingly big, as well as witty and sharp (the therapy sessions that punctuate the film are hilarious). There are some remarkably inventive sequences that keep is gasping with both excitement and laughter. And with a bit of sexy banter thrown in, there's not much more you could ask from a summer blockbuster. Bring on the sequel.

cert 15 themes, violence, language, innuendo 3.Jun.05

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© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall