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MR. AND MRS. SMITH
Unrated

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington, Vince Vaughn
Director:  Doug Liman
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  20th Century Fox
Features:  See Review
Length:  125 Minutes
Release Date:  June 6, 2006

"You still alive, baby?"

Film ***1/2

I never really thought about it before, but I guess even if you make your living as a professional assassin, you'd have pretty much the same problems we all have.  You'd still have the lawn to think about, the car, the water filters, the curtains, and of course, the marriage.  It's probably not easy to work at keeping a marriage intact while always contemplating the next neck you have to snap.  Just ask Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Though it seems to venture into similar waters as films like Prizzi's Honor, True Lies and War of the Roses, there's something kind of fresh and lively about it.  That's owing mostly to its main stars, the tabloid faves Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  They exhibit so much on-screen chemistry that if they're not involved in real life, they probably should be.

And credit also director Doug Liman, who turned out an energetic, witty and adrenaline-pumping movie that exceeds his Bourne Identity for sheer entertainment value.  The man knows how to direct action in a way that keeps us enraptured even when one or two bits seem to defy every known law of physics.  Or in this case, anatomy.

Pitt is John Smith, and Jolie is no Pocahontas as Jane.  Both are top secret hit men (or people, to be politically correct), and despite years of wedded bliss, neither knows what the other one REALLY does for a living.  As they sit in for marriage counseling, we learn in flashback form how they first got together, and how theirs, like a lot of marriages, seemed to lose steam over the years. 

But when both end up assigned to the same target, all hell breaks loose.  They are left with two choices:  either kill each other, or be hunted down by their own agencies.  As the veil of deceit lifts, Mr. and Mrs. Smith redefine the concept of fighting to save a marriage.

This is a hysterical comedy and and all out blazing action picture in one.  The teaming of Pitt and Jolie create the magic that everything else is rooted in, be it laughter, suspense, violence or even a touching moment or two.  The comedy skips between being truly dark and awfully lighthearted, and the banter between the Smiths is just about as quotable as any Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn picture you can recall.

Vince Vaughn has a small role as John's close friend and comrade in the business, and you'll laugh out loud every second he's on screen.  As a hit man who still lives with his mother while offering the beleaguered John his love advice, Vaughn proves once again that he's Hollywood's most reliable comic sidekick.

The laughs are terrific, but the action sequences are also first rate.  This picture boasts the best car chase scene I've witnessed since Bad Boys II, and also incorporates the best use of an Air Supply song I've yet seen in a movie.  I may never be able to listen to it again in the same way.  Liman also has a talent for waiting to pull his camera back and give us the establishing shot that adds to the fun.  And it's hard to say what's more show stopping...when the Smiths fight each other, or when they fight side by side.

There's really something for everyone here...for all viewers, there's the sharp comedy.  For the gals, there's the romance and the hunky Pitt.  For us guys, there's the blazing action and Jolie, looking more beautiful than ever before (I didn't think that was even possible; just one more way the movie defies known physical laws).  It's sexy, exciting, rib-tickling and one of the year's most entertaining escapist offerings. 

I say bring on the sequel.  How about Mr. and Mrs. Smith II:  Keeping Up With the Joneses?  I'd better wrap this review up quick in case the head of productions at Fox decides to call...

Video ****

Fox and action always deliver on DVD...they know how to put maximum movement on disc with minimal compression.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith looks great, and I'm not just talking about the lead stars.  I'm talking about the overall clarity in dark and light scenes, the image detail, and the liveliness of the colors.  No matter which way the bullets fly, everything renders superbly in this anamorphic transfer.

Audio ****

Chose Dolby Digital, choose DTS...just get ready to duck.  Liman's action sequences are the bomb (sometimes literally) for this explosive audio offering.  Extremely dynamic and heavily reliant on all channels including the floor shaking subwoofer signal, this DVD delivers all you would expect and then some.

Features ***

There's a decent commentary from director Doug Liman on Disc One.  Disc Two has some deleted scenes, including an alternate ending, a photo gallery, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and "Doug's Film School"...in it, he shows how a sequence gets put together using storyboards and animatics.

Summary:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith have cordially invited you to share in their misadventures in marriage, and I wouldn't say no to them, if I were you.  Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Doug Liman have delivered one of the most fun movie going experiences of the year.  Recommended.

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