‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ tries to be too many things and fails at most of them

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’

There are certain actors who are the Field of Dreams of movie making. If you cast them, the audience will come. Both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie fit into this category. So when both were cast in Mr. and Mrs. Smith it was destined to do well at the box office. However, it is a sad thing that their presence didn’t guarantee or deliver a quality film to the screen that all those people pay to see.

From a script penned by Simon Kinberg as his MFA thesis at Columbia University, and directed by Doug Liman, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is the story of a married couple who have managed to hide their true careers from each other for the five or six years that they have been married. Liman, who has demonstrated his strong skill at action and adventure in The Bourne Identity and his ability with comedy when he has the right script with Jon Favreau’s Swingers; is working with a vehicle that tries to mix the two. It can and has been done, and perhaps Mr. Liman would have done well to rent one or two of the examples of when it was well done before he began work on this project. A screening or two of True Lies certainly couldn’t have hurt his efforts here.

In this story, Mr. and Mrs. Smith are both assassins, working for rival agencies and both completely unaware of the other’s true occupation. Then they are both contracted to kill the same “mark”, except that it is a trap and they are actually supposed to kill each other. Suddenly they are both on the run from both agencies and everyone is trying to kill both of them and I’m being deliberately vague and leaving out the pitiful details of this woefully inept tale because it fails any kind of logic or believability test.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’

Trying to buy not one but two, rival “black-ops” government agencies, operating without the knowledge of each other, each in the process of carrying out dozens and dozens of killings? This doesn’t require just some suspension of disbelief, it requires completely disconnecting your pleasure sensors from your logical thinking process. Vince Vaughn is funny as a sidekick to Brad Pitt’s “Mr. John Smith”, but he is completely unbelievable as a serious operative in the world of intelligence operations.

Now, all of that having been said, if you can completely suspend disbelief for two full hours, at least twenty minutes of which could and should have been trimmed and left on the cutting room floor, then you will enjoy Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Buy a big box of popcorn and a large soda and hang on to your seat. It can be a fun ride if you can watch a movie while knowing that what you are seeing simply would not happen in the real world. The action sequences are packed with bullets, explosions and violence, along with plenty of the kind of tension that will make you hold your breath. Brad and Angelina are terrific eye candy and for once it was nice to see a character in a gunfight having to reload and picking up the weapons of their fallen victims along the way.

I wouldn’t pay money to see this film again, but someday it will probably become much like Roadhouse. A fun, action-packed film that you watch late at night on cable, but don’t tell anyone you were watching.

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