It’s interesting that I saw this on opening night and have since forgotten about writing a review about it, for me that says a lot about a film. You could feel it fading as you left the cinema and even talking about it with friends twenty minutes later you found each other reminding yourself about scenes.
For me that shows one of two things, the film was bad or it was pure entertainment which, although it can be enjoyable, just washes over you and lets you walk away without getting in your head and making a big impact. For Mr and Mrs Smith it was the latter.
There’s something that hits you about this film straight away in the opening scene, and it follows through the whole movie making it much more than it really is. The acting and chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. On screen they play off each other perfectly, and if you forget the movie and everything that’s happening around them for the moment, you can be reminded of one of those great on screen couplings from the older days of Hollywood. Together they are classics. Really, I’m not selling this too high, the opening scene nails it in terms of performance, their timing and playing off of each other is perfect and brings forward the sharp, incisive comedy in the script. There were many a nervous laugh from couples in the audience, and the singles laughed much harder! That’s what makes the film for me, with any two other actors I think the movie would have ridden an even keel and never made half the wave that this movie has.That aside, the premise of the movie in that the couple are both hit-persons, provides for a lot of set pieces and some excellent action. The interplay of a pair of warring hit-people reflects that of a badly married couple very well (not that I would know that!). The script is really strong, and gives some excellent dialogue to the leads. For me the beauty is in the detail here, not the big explosions. When John walks to his tool shed to check if his secret stash of money has been taken he’s instantly upset that the tool shed has been rifled, the typical man’s domain, except he never ever used it. It’s these little moments of pettiness in an angry relationship that made me, and the audience laugh. Those and the superb counsellor scenes, perfect moments.
The action is pretty cool in most parts, and the most excellent scene was the car chase. They’ve really tried to pull the camera back from the action a bit, something I wasn’t really enjoying in a lot of Hollywood movies these days, and you get to see things that are actually happening. Plus the script writers haven’t stopped at the dialogue, they’ve brought the sharp inventiveness into the arena of the set pieces as well, and there are a few good laughs to be had while the cars do battle from the action itself as well as the continuing married banter.
A couple of things did stand out for me though, there seem to be a few huge cuts which were quite jarring. One is early on when you see for the first time John Smith on a job, and the camera seems to drop and hide behind a chair for most of the events. Then the second big one is when John and Jane go for glory after having a big fight, and just as they seem to be getting to the nitty gritty they suddenly collapse and you are left wondering if Brad just can’t go for that long. To be honest that’s a nice relief for us mere mortals with sixteen packs instead of six.
Yet that’s something I noticed throughout, bullets firing and hitting nothing more than walls and inanimate objects, which is fine for the fight scene between the couple, but during the rest of the movie it all seemed a little watered down for me. I’m not saying give me an R or 18 rating, I’m just looking for a little more of the real hit-person feel. There’s also something along these lines that happens near the end that makes me think there was another ending but again it was chopped. Perhaps it was, perhaps it was another cut I felt just didn’t work right.
However, those niggles aside, it’s a great evenings entertainment, and an enjoyable film. The script is sharp and insightful, with the wonderful chemistry on screen from Pitt and Jolie, who bring back the beauty of the old Hollywood on screen couplings for me. They have proven themselves in some key scenes in this movie, I’d like to see them take it to something meatier.