Brad Pitt as John Smith
Angelina Jolie as Jane Smith
Adam Brody as Benjamin
Kerry Washington as Jasmine
Vince Vaughn as Eddie
One part Bourne Identity, one part War of the Roses and one part Spy Vs Spy, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is an entertaining, but overly long, look at the improbable marriage of two assassins for hire that are clueless about each other’s hitman (and hitwoman) exploits.
On the surface, John and Jane Smith are an ordinary suburban couple with an ordinary, lifeless suburban marriage. But each is hiding something the other would kill to know: Mr. and Mrs. Smith are actually highly paid, incredibly efficient assassins, and they work for competing organizations. Mr. and Mrs. Smith discover a new source of excitement in their marriage, when they’re hired to assassinate each other…and that’s when the real fun starts. The result is the ultimate action spectacle, as Mr. and Mrs. Smith put their formidable skills to work and their marriage to the ultimate test.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith is Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content and brief strong language.
As far-fetched as the premise to Mr. and Mrs. Smith is, there is some good story telling here even if we don’t get the full story. Both Pitt and Jolie’s characters are fleshed out well enough – he is an ‘engineer’ as a cover, she a ‘IT’ guru. The formula of having the scenes told in flashback form interlaced with real-time trips to the marriage councilor was fun and harkened back to the cut scenes of the old married couples from When Harry Met Sally. A lot of the comedy fell in those scenes and tended to work well. Both Pitt and Jolie show that they have some comedic chops with solid timing and delivery in those scenes as well as others throughout the film.
The other laughs came from the ever-faithful Vince Vaughn, who plays Pitt’s brother (who is also an ‘engineer’). Vaughn is a riot as a 30-something hitman that still lives with his mother. Vaughn’s Eddie steals every scene his is in.
The chemistry between Pitt and Jolie is undeniable and doesn’t appear forced at all. Forget the off-screen rumors of shenanigans between the pair and enjoy the view of two pretty people that work pretty well together.
I also liked the scene in the department store towards the end of the film. Both Smiths are inside a tool shed display, battered and bruised, loading in ammo as SWAT-style commandos closed in. The scene looked to be a nod to Butch Cassidy as the Bolivian army surrounded the mission, but the results were different.
What Didn’t Work:
The onslaught of violence and there is a ton. I was surprised that the film got a PG-13 rating. All of the gun fire, car crashes, dead bodies etc as the film wore on it seemed more and more like overkill, which may have been the point. The scene in the house – once both Smiths are after each other – seemed long. I think the viewer is suppose to see comedy in the pair destroying their house with large caliber assault weapons as they attempt to destroy each other but it didn’t play that way. The scene in the mini-van – once the Smiths banded together – seemed long. The pair find themselves in a freeway chase with three black BMWs. It dragged to the point, I almost yelled out “Hey Superspies! Shoot the tires out already!” The marital bickering, which is good for laughs during the first half of the film, really starts to wear thin by the third act.
Another nuisance point with the film was the fact that we never are told exactly who the Smith’s work for. All we know is that they are competing organizations. We’re not even told if they are American or foreign organizations. You get the hint that Mrs. Smith is a ‘good guy’ after she dusts an arms dealer early on, but maybe I shouldn’t make that jump. It seemed odd to leave that unsaid, but I suppose in the end it doesn’t hurt anything.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith does provide entertainment, but might make for a better rainy day rental than trip to the theater. If you’re up for action, a lot of guns and a few jabs at marital bliss, Mr. and Mrs. Smith could be for you. If you’re looking for a deep, thought-provoking spy story, then keep looking this isn’t it.