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Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Doug Liman, USA. 2005

Rating: 3.9

 

Posted: June 16, 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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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

 5.0: A drop of bliss

 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
 0.0-1.0: Soul scarring
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