Film Review – Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Directed: Doug Liman

Writer:  Simon Kinberg

Starring: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Adam Brody

Tagline: “The secrets we keep in marriage”

Trivia: The film’s original script was writer Simon Kinberg’s thesis for his Masters in Fine Arts.

Sometimes it’s good to revisit old movies to see how well did they stand the test of time. Revisiting Mr. & Mrs. Smith proves that it is one of those movies that stand that test.

Watching the movie years after the tabloid scandal of what took place “behind the scenes” and the creation (and fall) of BradJolina, the movie proves it still keeps its charm and fun.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a movie that consists of watching two people together on the screen. The plot is irrelevant. What matters is the “chemistry,” a term that once referred to a science but now refers to the heat we sense, or think we sense, between two movie stars. 

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have it, or we believe they have it, and because they do, the movie works. If they did not, there’d be nothing to work with.

When you say, “underrated” it would usually mean, “I like this more than anyone else I’ve discussed it with, and to hell with that”, and has therefore no real value as a critical judgment. But I still think that Mr. & Mrs. Smith is one of the most underrated popcorn movies of the 2000s, in spite of receiving contradicting reviews.

There was a time in cinema history where a movie used to work based solely on the charisma of the stars of that movie. That era of the glory days of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s is long gone, but it doesn’t mean that that same principle couldn’t work when there is a real “chemistry” between your main stars.

What makes Mr. & Mrs. Smith work like it does – is that it’s not about the plot, even a little bit; it is strictly in the tradition of mainstream film production that once upon a time held that we, the audience, didn’t really care what happened or what particular characters it happened to, but only really wanted to watch Cary Grant/Rosalind Russel/Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall waltz back and forth onscreen doing the exact same things they did in every single movie. 

Mr. & Mrs. Smith lives and dies on one single precept: that it is inherently entertaining to watch Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie fire guns, deliver zingers, and make out. Disagree with even one of these points, let alone all three, and the movie evaporates into a mist of pointlessness, noisiness, and moral ugliness.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith of 2005 is quite open and guileless about wanting to be a movie that delivers all its intended audience wants of its mindless entertainment: so there are hot actors, large explosions, great big chase scenes, and wave after wave of consequence-free violence, and these things are increasingly difficult to justify. It is totally, pure guilty pleasure, and the only real defence of it on aesthetic grounds is that it’s made with a considerable degree of sophistication.

Simon Kinberg‘s screenplay is jam-packed with wit, and a great bantering dialogue, that is delivered with flawless precision by the two stars, and under the direction of Doug Liman, who was behind The Bourne Identity and thus did so much to establish the modern face of the action movie, the film’s set pieces are awfully hard to fault.

Over-edited, maybe, but they are for the most part creative, and the two best ones – one in which the Smiths reduce their posh suburban home to rubble, the other in which they use all the various openings of a minivan to fire at the goons chasing them down the highway – are amusingly pointed in their demolition of the trappings of middle-class ambition.

The film ends in sort of a tribute to another great duo Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid in a slow-motion ballet of bullets as the Smiths perform a ballistic tango against the inter-agency goons sent to kill them both.

It’s a fun finale to a fun film, one that won’t insult your intelligence or force you to strain your grey matter by trying to keep up with too many complex subplots. In other words, it’s a near-perfect popcorn movie.

See it, love it and rewind it.

Verdict – 4/5 Stars in my book

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