236 – Mr. and Mrs. Smith

John Smith (Brad Pitt) is an assassin for hire. Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) is, too. They work for different companies, and neither one knows the other's true occupation. Until they're hired to kill each other. *cue suspense music*

Thanks to the excellent chemistry between Pitt and Jolie and some riveting action scenes, the movie manages to lift itself above most others in the genre. That is to say, it's not just another dumb shoot-em-up, although not as brainy as, for example, The Bourne Identity.

The mutual disovery that their spouse is a hit man doesn't occur until a good half hour into the film, but once it does, you're treated to a series of fast-paced scenes in the tradition of The War of the Roses, including a decimation of the couple's home. The trouble is that I can't give you too much of the plot without telling you the twists, because there aren't that many to begin with. But as long as you concentrate on the combined hotness of the starring duo – so smoldering that sparks flew off-set as well – you'll be fine. Don't let the story distract you!

Doug Liman, who gave us such instant classics as Swingers, Go, and The Bourne Identity, keeps things moving pretty quickly, although a peek at the goofs page on IMDb will show that enough errors were made to make one question the editing. Still, the action scenes pack quite a wallop, particularly the close hand-to-hand combat between the Smiths in their house.

The story varies for the most part from implausible to improbable, as is often the case with action films. But Pitt and Jolie both look right for their respective parts, including handling firearms and other weapons. What impressed me is that neither character seemed particularly moralistic about their line of work. For example, no “oh, we kill only bad guys!” junk – they kill whomever, whenever, wherever. Particuarly amusing is the scene in which they reveal to each other how many kills they've had.

Vince Vaughn is on hand as Eddie, who works with John, and even though his role is very small, he manages to walk off with every scene he's in. That's because Jolie and Pitt wisely underplay their roles, leaving the fireworks to take center stage. Oh, and their obvious good looks, too.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith: ***


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