Thursday, 18 December 2014
Free Action Movie Week: Mr. & Mrs. Smith
For day four of Free Action Movie Week, I get into arguably the second-most popular choice. Nearly everybody who commented on the initial announcement saying they wanted me to see Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I had never seen it before, though I do remember seeing the trailer when it first came out and wanting to watch it. I never quite got around to that whole thing. When I was younger, I actually had a crush on Angelina Jolie, and seeing her appear in anything was enough to get me excited. She still does, largely because knowing she's involved means I'm going to be in for something exciting. That's precisely what I got here.
John (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie) are top-notch assassins who happen to meet in Colombia and pretend to be a couple to evade the police. Five or six years later, they are struggling through the mundane difficulties of marriage. Neither one of them is aware of the other's real profession, with Jane pretending to be a typical suburban housewife cooking and cleaning in between assignments (she keeps her weapons in a chache hidden under the oven), and John getting his assignments through the construction company he works for. John and Jane are getting bored with their relationship, dealing with standard marital issues. That all changes one day when both are separately assigned to kill the same person, Benjamin Danz (Adam Brody). The job inevitably goes awry when the two of them unknowingly get distracted trying to kill each other instead of the target. The two of them are forced to choose between their careers and their marriage.
I loved the relationship between the two leads in this film. The way romance is integrated with the action is genius. You can never quite tell where the romance ends and the action begins. Even in the scenes where they're trying to kill each other Brad and Angelina still talk to each other like a married couple. It has this weird effect where the action scenes feel romantic and the romantic moments feel more like action scenes. Before things get all heated the dialogue is filled with clever double entendres. In one early scene Jane talks about how she got some new curtains in a way that sounds very unsuspiciously like she stole them from someone she recently killed. Once things get going, we get multiple scenes of the two of them trying to set aside their differences while being fired upon.
The chemistry between these two leads is brilliant. It's actually hard to believe this movie was made before Brad and Angelina became a real couple, because it really feels like they belong together. The rest of the supporting cast does a good job but really at the core of the film it's this relationship that drives the film, and it could have easily gone downhill. Mr. & Mrs. Smith takes full advantage of its setup, and I like the fact that both of them are assassins. This basic idea could have worked if it had just been one, but then it would have been a very different dynamic that would have seen one protecting the other or perhaps having to help them toughen up. By having both on equal footing, there is a greater necessity for cooperation, with John and Jane both having to take turns watching each other's back.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith might just be the perfect fusion of two genres that most would consider mutually exclusive: the action film and the romantic comedy. Normally you would not put these two together, but here they're combined so seamlessly it's hard to tell the elements of one from the other. It's a bit like one of those old-fashioned boy meets girl romantic comedies, only now with a lot more guns, knives, explosions, and property damage. It's a lot of fun and definitely worth the ride. Also before anyone asks, I have not seen the 1941 Alfred Hitchcock movie that is coincidentally also called Mr. & Mrs. Smith that is also a comedy about marital issues but otherwise a completely different film.