Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

(In theaters, June 2005) Director Doug Liman should be stopped. After a middling performance on The Bourne Identity, he comes and singlehandedly destroys what could have been a fantastic action/comedy romp through a heavy-handed “realistic” approach. Mr. & Mrs. Smith is, at its heart, a fantasy: How else can you interpret a story in which husband and wives are both members of rival assassination teams? How else do you show a story with big guns, fast cars, thick sexual tension and a sly take on matrimonial strife? This calls for a Bruckheimer/Bay sheen of glowing cinematography where not one single detail is left to realism. But Liman has other ideas, and Mr & Mrs Smith struggles with useless grit, leadening something that should have been more light-hearted. Even the action sequences suffer from too-rapid cutting, ugly cinematography and a lack of graceful charm. In sticking close to an unattainable reality, Liman also brings too much attention on the distasteful “conjugal violence” aspect of the story: However fun and cool the rest of the picture is, there remains a distinct discomfort in seeing husband and wife shooting at each other, and then moving on to punches, kicks and low blows. Summer action comedy? Not quite, no. Fortunately, it’s not all bad when you see the good work that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie bring to their role. Each play according to their media image: Pitt as the slightly-doofus handsome guy, and Jolie to the fatal seductress icon in which she has gradually evolved since her goth-cutter beginnings. As entertainment, Mr & Mrs Smith hits and misses. But one can see the potential for a far better film buried in the rubble.

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