Thursday, January 11, 2018

Movie #444: Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Mr. & Mrs. Smith is an action/drama movie starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (with appearances from Keith David, Vince Vaughn, and Angela Bassett). It's a somewhat perplexing movie to me.

John and Jane Smith (Pitt and Jolie, respectively) are a bored, rich, married couple who, in reality, are both assassins working for competing agencies. They meet while on unrelated assignments in Columbia, fall in love, get married, but conceal their real jobs from each other. Now, several years later, they're bored with their cover lives. And then they botch a job, wind up assigned to kill each other, rekindle their relationship, and kill, just, like, everybody escaping.

This movie was the start of "Brangelina", and it stars two very sexy people. I have never understood, therefore, how it manages to be boring, but there it is. Having now watched it a little more carefully, and with the benefit of some years, I have a couple of thoughts.

First of all, it fails at world-building. John and Jane work for different agencies, but they also seem to be in different movies. John is in Grosse Point Blank; his agency has some tech, but it's more grounded. Jane, meanwhile, is in Charlie's Angels - she has magical neck-breaking skills, she can jump off a skyscraper with only rings connected by a knit purse to rappel with, and her agency is a group of Dangerous Hot Women working for Keith David. The agencies have some cliches attached to them, but there's no real identity. Now, compare that to John Wick, which just knocked world-building out of the park.

And then there's the weird lack of chemistry between the leads. Like, we know they actually have chemistry, so where is it? They nail the "bored with each other" bit, but then comes the scene where they fight, and even that seems kind of phoned-in, and then there's a sex scene that's so badly paced and blocked that I couldn't tell when it was over at first. The framing device of them at a marriage counselor came closer to establishing their relationship, but we never quite crack it.

Pitt, in particular, is really wooden in this movie, and I don't know why, because he's a capable comic actor (and dramatic actor). Jolie does better at conveying what her character is going through subtly, but even she feels kind of stiff. The action scenes are OK, but they're not as balletic as John Wick or as exciting as Grosse Pointe Blank. I dunno, this movie just feels like a near miss to me.

My Grade: D+
Rewatch Value: Low

Next Up: Mr. Holland's Opus