Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)


(director: Doug Liman; screenwriter: Simon Kinberg; cinematographer: Bojan Bazelli ; editor: Michael Tronick; music: John Powell; cast: Brad Pitt (John Smith), Angelina Jolie (Jane Smith), Adam Brody (Benjamin Danz), Kerry Washington (Jasmine), Vince Vaughn (Eddie), William Fichtner (therapist’s voice); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Arnon Milchan/Akiva Goldsman/Lucas Foster/Patrick Wachsberger/Eric McLeod; 20th Century Fox; 2005)

“This is Liman’s first bomb, after three killer films.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Doug Liman (“Swingers”/”Go”/”The Bourne Identity”) presents two films in one: a hybrid screwball comedy and an action thriller. This overproduced, overwrought, disappointing, incoherent, big-budget film is a star showcase for the talents of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who exhibit a great chemistry together but because Simon Kinberg’s script is so lame and the set pieces are so lacking in grace the bankable stars overbaked antics soon become wearisome and their anticipated screen presence builds to a big let down. It’s an over-the-top senseless action driven film that is witless (unless you call a character wearing a T-shirt with Fight Club on it or a K-Mart type of store turned into a shooting gallery as witty sight gags!); its comedic attempts rely on a banal sparring dialogue between the beleaguered couple, an inane running gag that the couple can’t agree if they were married for 5 or 6 years, dumb physical comedy and annoyingly loud special effects (including turning their richly decorated house into a bombed-out wreck). It emulates Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in their battle of the sexes themed “The War of the Roses (1989),” where they destroy their house and attack each other. But it doesn’t even match that disappointing comedy in achieving as many laughs.

Framed around the unhappy and bored suburban Smith couple, John (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie), attending marriage counseling. The film begins and ends in the unseen therapist’s office, where he peppers them with questions for them to rate on a scale of 1-to-10 how such things as their sex life is going. John complains of her bad cooking, while Jane complains hubby can’t express his feelings. During the course of the therapy we learn about their fortuitous forced meeting in a bar in Bogotá, Colombia, and that they quickly married not knowing much about each other or even questioning what they were doing in such a hot revolutionary spot. They both leave in separate cars every morning to go to work. Jane operates a Manhattan temp agency, which is a front for her all-women hit squad. John owns an engineering firm, a front for him to operate undetected as a contract assassin. They each have a close friend they confide in: Jane with Jasmine and John with the woman-hating Eddie (Vince Vaughn), who lives with his mom and tries desperately to offer comic relief but can’t spit out even one funny line. As it turns out, the Smiths are both ace assassins for rival spy agencies, each keeping their cover from the other by lying about their work and biography. Things come to a head when both are assigned to bump off a heavily guarded federal prisoner in a desert area near the Mexican border, Benjamin (Adam Brody). Their missions are botched as they each get in the way of the other, but they discover in the third act each other’s real identities and surprisingly discover the real target of their mission was not the prisoner–they were supposed to bump each other off (don’t ask why! the movie explanation just didn’t add up). The couple now team up to go against the same agencies they used to work for, who are now serious about killing them. It leads to uninteresting car chases, lots of explosions and a revitalization of their marriage.

The gimmicky plot line and fluff material seems better suited for a TV series than a feature-length movie. This is Liman’s first bomb, after three killer films. The first one where he couldn’t bring any heft to a movie.