Smitten by the Smiths

You’d think that an action movie like “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” would start with an action sequence. But no, it starts even better — in the battlefield of marriage counseling. Armed with retorts, John and Jane Smith (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) sit side by side while facing the marriage counselor (slash-cameraman). They are hilariously awkward and frustrated with each other. The spark has gone out since they met five or six years ago. Two gorgeous people, not attracted to each other anymore? What gives? The movie audience snickers in the dark, filled with knowledge the trailers have already spilled. The crack in their marriage is due to the secrecy of their profession. They’re both assassins… in opposition.

That’s all you need to know going into the movie. If you get confused in the plot, you’re thinking way too much. Albeit the plot holes of the story nicely match the rainstorm of bullet holes in the movie. Let yourself be distracted by dynamic pairing of Pitt and Jolie. I don’t think we’ll ever see two actors who can generate this much exciting chemistry this year. This reminds me of the time I doubted “Pirates of the Carribbean.” I expected the plot to be so-so (which it was), but Johnny Depp was such a beguiling performer that you’d go through anything to be in his company. I felt the same way here. This is the type of movie you forgive the supreme invincibility of the two leads, in hopes of prolonging the abrasive banter. It never got stale for me, even when the movie ventured into clichés.

The movie was wise to devote as much time to Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It falters when it shifts away from the couple’s relationship. At the second half, when the plot introduces outer forces at work, the story actually lags and cowers back in the safety of a glorified shoot-out scene. It’s not as fun as the mano a womano fights in the first half. The supporting players are quite weak too. Vince Vaughn, as John’s associate, is hardly significant to the story. He’s only there for laughs. Meanwhile Adam Brody, in a significant role, appears too brief to produce a personality.

This is not one of Brad Pitt’s best movies but it contains one of his best performances. His energetic charisma is a laugh magnet. He’s funny when he’s a bit jumpy and well – scared of what his wife might be capable. On the other corner, Angelina Jolie rivals Pitt’s humor with a seductively imposing presence. She tenaciously devours the part, wonderfully playing in ludicrous scenarios with a straight face. She’s probably the only convincing actress, tough enough, to kick Pitt’s ass. It’s a match made in heaven, especially when hell breaks loose.

Grade: B+