John (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie) Smith are at their first marriage therapy session. After five or six years of marriage they realize they are having difficulty but are unable or unwilling to articulate their problems to the therapist. He asks them to describe how they first met and they revisit their chance meeting in a bar in Bogota’, Colombia after an important man had been assassinated. They are immediately attracted to one another and soon John proposes to Jane.
John and Jane are well off and live in suburbia. They are competitive and professionally cool with one another. They each have a secret life but are unaware of what one another’s façade is hiding. They are both highly trained assassins. Jane runs a high-tech all female company and John seems to be an engineer who works for Eddie (Vince Vaughn) who still lives at home with his mom.
One day Jane gets an assignment to kill a prisoner being transported across the desert. She sets it up from a shack and waits for the transport. John gets the same assignment and crosses the desert in a dune buggy. With one thing and another, both Jane and John get in each other’s way, the shack gets blown up and they finally realize that they are both hired assassins. What’s worse, they are then assigned to kill each other because their bosses discover they are married and perhaps cannot be trusted.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a pretty funny movie. Like a high voltage, high-tech, pyromania version of an old Hepburn-Tracy flick. It would be a mistake to see the film only as an ultra-violent, seductive spy thriller. It is this, of course. However, the film is a highly structured, close look at a marriage in trouble, and the fireworks, destruction, and new start make up the metaphor. Eddie is more than what he seems and the “you live with your mom” schtick is a running gag throughout.
John and Jane do not communicate; in order for them to “work through” their issues they have to make the journey through the lies to the truth and trust. When they finally join together against a common enemy (for a shoot-out, blow ‘em up in a home and garden store) they start communicating with sign language.
Although the violence is comic, it will be intense for some viewers – especially when John and Jane go at it mano a mano.
Both Jolie and Pitt are eminently watch-able and yes, they make a good on-screen couple. This writer does not wish to delve into off-screen commentary.
Well-directed by Doug Liman (Bourne Identity; Bourne Supremacy) and more than competently written by newcomer Simon Kinberg, I thought the movie entertaining. So did the morning Friday (June 10) audience.
As a media educator, however, I always find the trivialization of weaponry and violence troublesome. To mature viewers, it’s perhaps okay, but for younger viewers who may not understand the irony, the double entendres, or the metaphor, and who may live in violent domestic situations, movies like this are problematic. It’s somewhat the same issue that I have with boxing and boxing movies; boxing is violent no matter how one approaches it – even Cinderella Man, that is based on a true story. What differentiates a boxing movie, and legitimizes it from a fun-violent movie is that boxing is a sport. But for me, the line between the two is very blurry.
Overall, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, despite its sophistication (and as entertaining as it is; I did enjoy it! ) is another film that contributes to a culture where gun and physical violence between married people and nations is just another day at home and the office.
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