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Mr. & Mrs. Smith Review

By Shawn McKenzie 06/10/2005

I have discovered that Doug Liman is one of the best directors today.  He consistently delivers highly enjoyable movies, and I now anticipate every new project he does.  His latest movie, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, is further proof that he has the stuff.

John (Brad Pitt) and Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) have humdrum lives.  John owns a construction company in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with his best friend Eddie (Vince Vaughn), who lives with his mother, while Jane works for a high tech computer firm in New York City with her best friend Jasmine (Kerry Washington.)  They are currently in counseling with a marriage counselor (William Fichtner, who appears in voice only) in hopes that they can save their marriage.  It wasn’t always that bad for them though.  About five years ago (or six, if Jane is correct), John and Jane, whose maiden name was Jones, met in Bogotá, Colombia, where the police were looking for single tourists whom they suspect were mercenary assassins.  In order to deflect from their suspicions, John said that Jane was with him and that they were a couple.  After some drinking and dancing, they became a couple for real.  Six months later, they are married…and that brings them to today.  The problem with their marriage, other than it now being boring, is that they both think that the other is cheating on one another.  They are living secret lives, but they aren’t cheating on one another.  They are both paid assassins, working for different secret organizations.  John works for a mystery woman (Angela Bassett) with Eddie and Jane works for a mystery man, known only as “Father” (Keith David), alongside Jasmine, Julie (Stephanie March), Jade (Jennifer Morrison), Jessie (Theresa Barrera), and Jamie (Perrey Reeves.)  They are both given the same assignment to take out Benjamin “Tank” Danz (Adam Brody), a witness who is in federal protection.  During a scene in the desert where they both try to do their jobs at the same time, they discover each other’s secrets.  Still denying their true identities, they go on with their lives, though tension is in the air.  When they both receive their new targets, which happen to be each other, the battle is on to see who can take out the other first.  The excitement of the chase of one another ironically ends up putting their spark back in their marriage…if they can manage to stay alive long enough to see that spark ever again.

Liman’s direction, using screenwriter Simon Kinberg’s (XXX: State of the Union) script, hits all of the right notes.  The dialogue is great, and Liman has already proven that he can direct a really cool action flick, with 2002’s The Bourne Identity.  I had said in my review of last year’s The Bourne Supremacy that Liman must not be able to get along with his cast, because he never works with the same actors twice.  I stand corrected, because this movie reunites Liman with Vaughn, who worked with him in 1996’s Swingers, and Brody, who currently stars in FOX’s “The O.C.,” a show that Liman is the executive producer for (and the director of the first two episodes.)

Speaking of the cast, this is definitely Pitt and Jolie’s show.  I really hate to be the millionth critic to say this, but these two ooze chemistry and passion.  I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if Pitt had worked with the original Jane Smith, Nicole Kidman.  Besides…Jolie has already shown that she can handle action with the first Tomb Raider movie (let’s just forget about its sequel though.)  I really don’t care about their real life tabloid troubles…I just enjoyed seeing them together onscreen.  The only other person who stands out is Vaughn, who I was surprised that I didn’t like in Be Cool (I usually always like him.)  I would have thought that Brody would have stood out, but he isn’t in the movie long enough to be memorable (even though he dominates the second half of the movie.)  That doesn’t take away from my overall rating of the movie though.

Liman has joined Kevin Smith, Tim Burton, David Fincher, and Steven Spielberg as one of the directors that I will always be excited to see a movie from in the future.  Even though I barely remember his first movie, 1994’s Getting In, I loved Swingers, 1999’s Go, The Bourne Identity, and now Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  I don’t know what he has next in store, but I’m pretty certain that I will love it.

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