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Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Doug Liman, USA. 2005
Yeah, I know these slots are usually reserved for the over analytical
prudishness of Laurence Station or the hipster commentaries of our supreme
leader, Kevin Forest Moreau, but sometimes you canít send a fop to do a manís
job. So letís do this thing. Hollywood is banking on the all-engulfing
sensuality of Angelina Jolie to rocket Mr. and Mrs. Smith to the top of
the box office charts. Perhaps a safer bet has never been made. As an actress,
Jolie is beyond a proven commodity, proving time and again that she can take any
role, dive into it heart and soul, and deliver a performance that can carry or
steal any scene. Does her presence save this film? Are you kidding me? Her
presence could save an
M. Night Shyamalan film! She has powers that man was not meant to wield,
powers he is not capable of understanding or measuring with current technology.
The film begins with the titular couple in marriage therapy, and early on you
can see what a force Jolie will be in the film. This other dude is in it, Bruce
something ... Pike, Potts, Pokey... his name escapes me, but heís there, too.
Anyway, as the tale is told in reverse, we see the first chance encounter that
brings the two together. The sparks fly, and the attraction between the pair is
undeniable. Soon they are married and settled into the suburban lifestyle. How
hot is Jolie as a suburban housewife? I have no words to do justice to that
image, so let's just say: very, very, very hot.
The only hitch in this perfect suburban life is that Mr. Smith has a little
secret. He is a professional assassin with a hidden arsenal in his tool shed
that he dips into to handle various contracts. He comes home each day to find
his mega-hot wife cooking dinner. Ah, but here's the twist: Mrs. Smith also has
a little secret. She, too, is a professional killer, carrying out her own jobs
while her husband is ďat work.Ē As you can probably surmise, the two run into
each other while on the same assignment and discover each otherís secrets. What
happens next is a little spy-on-spy action, as each attempts to kill the other
while wrestling with their feelings about the lie that had been their lives.
Look, you can see where this is going. Stuff blows up, thereís lots of
submachine gun fire, and Jolie steals each and every scene she's in. The story
is interesting and not without its charm, but it alone is not enough to hold the
audienceís interest. Some may consider my over-indulgence in Jolieís performance
as typical infatuation with what may be the worldís most naturally beautiful
woman -- what with her entrancing eyes, luscious lips, lustrous hair, silky skin
and... uh... where was I, again?
But it is more than that. Without her presence, this film does not get off the
ground. She is far more than simple eye candy; she delivers in all of the action
scenes and is believable regardless of the situation she's in. In short, when
Jolie is not on screen (which, thankfully, is not often), the film drags, and
the story seems tired. You can call this what you will, but at its core, this is
an Angelina Jolie movie pure and simple.
Yes, there are enough explosions, car chases and shootouts to rival a
pre-gubernatorial Ahnuld flick, but perhaps the best feature of the story is
that it allows Jolie to play a suburban housewife as well as a kick-ass
professional killer. It's brilliant casting, simply brilliant. She plays
each to perfection, rivaling the finest Jekyll/Hyde performances ever. During
one of Mrs. Smithís jobs, she plays the role of a dominatrix to get close to her
target. This gives Jolie a chance to explore yet another role, and I donít know
about you, but the sight of Jolie in S&M getup, complete with riding crop, was
more than enough to get my attention (as well as that of every other straight
male in the audience).
And this brings us back to my point. Jolie makes the film work. You watch to see
her and what she can bring to the story, not where the story can bring her. I
can think of no other actress that can command the screen like she does. Mr.
and Mrs. Smith is less about an interesting story and far more about letting
Angelina Jolie run wild. And for that reason, it works. It works very well, and
it's refreshing to see a film that lets the hottest woman in Hollywood do what
she does best. And is that enough? Yes. Oh God yes it is.
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