MR. and MRS. SMITH

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


 

                Good premise:  Newly wed couple lives in apparent conformity on a suburban street.  Their dinner table conversation – always at seven – is slow and strained because these two have a lot to hide.  The rapid-fire unfolding of their secrets along with staring at Angelina Jolie (Jane Smith) and Brad Pitt (John smith) is supposed to be enough to sustain us for two hours.  It isn’t. 

                This is a movie whose makers couldn’t decide what they wanted it to be.  Nick and Nora Charles in “The Thin Man”?  Nope - no humor, no style.  Bonnie and Clyde?  Again, no style.  Mr. Bond?  They start on the right track with this one.  Trapped in a building, Jane rips the handle off her pocketbook, secures it, and takes a multi-story ride on a wire to street level safety on a concealed wire.  Wires are favored tools favored tools in this movie.   

Speaking of tools, John and Jane are weapons experts, each with a hidden stash of His and Hers specialties of the trade. His guns, all shapes and sizes, are laid out on cellar shelves.  Her assorted knives are laid out like make up brushes in a clever storage bin that rises from beneath the oven at the push of a button.  These two, you see, are the cream of their profession:  free agent assassins for hire at a very high price.  Since this kind of work is done on a “need to know” basis, neither knows the occupation of the other.  The door to John’s office says “Professional Engineer;”  Jane’s, “CEO, Technology Staffing.”  Their new assignments:  each is to kill the other.  Don’t bother to ask yourself who issues the orders.

                There are cloudy references to “The Agency,” “The Firm,” “The Company,” all terms in common use for CIA and the FBI.  Is this a spoof?  If so, the writers work with heavy hands and walk with leaden feet.  A spoof has to tickle the funny bone – lightly.  James Bond’s violence never seems like violence because it is so preposterous and so often funny.  This movie tries to neutralize its violence by having all the bad guys sheathed in black; we don’t have to suffer when these people die because they are faceless.                

                For twenty minutes the movie has promise.  From that point on it’s all explosions, car crashes, and gunfire – all so loud the spoken lines are nearly obliterated.  The only stylish sight, and I’m reaching here, is Jolie and Pitt, crouched, back-to-back, firing at bands of unknown attackers.  There is also a certain charm in the final revelation of the lies they have told each other.   

                Summing up:  Stars, good.   Style, none.  Humor, none.  Plot, zip.  Violence, non-stop.  Noise level, earsplitting.  How do they kill people?  Let me count the ways:  Bombs, cars, guns, wrenches, neck breaking.    Will there be a wonderful Bondian ending to lighten things up?  Will they die in a hail of gunfire?  It’s your guess.  Mine was wrong. 

 


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