Ok, I know that I shouldn’t have been expecting much more than some eye candy, a few decent action sequences and two hours of air conditioning. But, I’ll admit, I was disappointed by Mr. & Mrs. Smith — Director Doug Liman did a great job with The Bourne Identity a few years ago, and I generally root for both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. But, while Pitt is as aw-shucks amiable as usual (his stint in Troy aside) and Jolie is, as always, very easy on the eyes, there just isn’t much here. Sure, marriage as war is a metaphor that’s been mined pretty thoroughly over the years…but one can usually still find choicer nuggets than the ones making up this flick. In short, the script is half-baked and the action is overdone.
Beginning with a marriage counselor interview intercut with the credit sequence (it plays a bit like the opening to The Incredibles) followed by a meet-cute in Colombia “five or six years earlier,” Smith seems intriguing enough at first glance…sort of an actioner by way of a Steven Soderbergh film. But the movie then takes way too long establishing its central conceit — we’re a good forty minutes in before the spy vs. spy angle is worked out — particularly given that Pitt and Jolie seem so woefully out of place in the burbs.
That being said, the early going is probably the film’s better half. Once the two start going after each other, and particularly after the big marital mano-a-mano, the movie takes several increasingly graceless lapses into absurdity. Most of the big action setpieces, particularly the finale in a department store, not only don’t make any narrative sense but have zero danger to them. (Really, what was the point of setting up these two as crack shots at the Coney Island fairground, if they continually miss each other from point-blank range? These Agents Smith are even more bullet-proof than Hugo Weaving in The Matrix.)
Action aside, the script also takes a turn for the hammy as Mr. & Mrs. Smith progresses. The more Pitt and Jolie begin to discover about each other, the less and less they sound like a married couple. And, after awhile, the movie’s ingratiating penchant of doing just about anything for a laugh, from funny faces to cat sound effects to Air Supply and “The Girl from Ipanema,” gets kinda tiresome. (Particularly egregious in this regard is every scene with Vince Vaughn, where the same “living at home with mom” joke is made over and over again.) By the time The OC‘s Adam Brody flaunts his Fight Club T-shirt while getting grilled by Pitt, I had had enough already. What can I say? I really thought Mr. & Mrs. Smith was gonna work out, but eventually, the thrill was gone.