About a little under a year ago, a filmmaker named Russell Emanuel sent over a film called “Girl with Gun”, about a single girl who has to balance her single life, career, and job as a hit man all at the same time. I loved that movie and it was a little under twenty minutes long. That film, an independent film, was fun, light, and breezy and managed to grasp its concept with enough entertaining novelty, that it felt too damn short. With “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”, I didn’t get that feeling. And I wanted to enjoy it, I really, really did. But I couldn’t. And why? Well, mostly because “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” takes itself much too seriously. One thing I can’t begrudge “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” for is its excellent direction.
Liman’s directing is always visually appealing, he can make dumb films worth watching, for his style alone, and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is a gorgeous movie with some very good cinematography in its corner. And it’s often entertaining to see the action sequences intertwined in the paper thin story. But the film becomes much more interesting once they learn about each other and their professions, it becomes less a retread, and more two highly skilled agents trying to outwit one another and put to test the tactics they’ve learned, and then it becomes like a video game in which we’re watching which one will kill off the other first. With more black comedy this could have been a well done “Spy vs. Spy” mimic, but it’s just as fun watching them fight and banter back and forth, especially with the excellent choreography.
Their fights become a form of sexual foreplay, and repressed sexual energy they’ve had to keep down over the years, and the introduction of their secret lives are a renewal of their relationship. Rather than being a campy rollicking film, it has instead a smug self-awareness about itself. It saunters about throughout the entire film with a self-serving attitude. Yes this is Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Yes they are having an affair… yes… they are secret agents. And yes… they are too cool for the screen. But, I just couldn’t get past the fact that Pitt and Jolie have no chemistry. Together, on-screen, they aren’t as believable a couple as they think they are. They have no interesting personality traits, they’re boring characters, and they’re much too artificial to be bought as a couple whom are in a rut.
Pitt is utterly cardboard as the “sly and cocky” Mr. Smith, looking awfully bored in his character while Jolie basically instills much of the sensibility from Lara Croft into her performance as Mrs. Smith. Not to mention Vaughn plays Vaughn yet again as the quirky fast talking gigolo. How many times can he play the same character? The two constantly bat eye brows and exchange glances intending to be aware that they can kill one another at any moment, but the gimmick often becomes rather grating, especially when you consider neither of them are likable, or watchable to begin with.
The plot is utterly paper thin comprised of “chemistry” between the two actors attempting to out do one another constantly, and you know neither are going to put each other in immediate danger, so the constant action sequences are more annoying than suspenseful. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is bland, and brutally underwhelming for what I was expecting, and for a retread of “True Lies” I expected much more. I wasn’t all mistaken in terms of the quality in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”; Doug Liman knows how to direct a damn fine action film with excellent choreography and dazzling direction, while the story takes entertaining twists with its characters, but as a whole it’s mediocre with boring performances, and a plot that’s often too self-serving to be watchable.