MR. AND MRS. SMITH probably started life as a script that was a very clever satire on the state of modern matrimony. What finally made it to the screen, however, is instead a schlocky vehicle for its stars, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. There are a few moments when one sees a dash of savvy wit, which makes the rest of this excruciating exercise in Hollywood excess all the more annoying.
Pitt and Jolie star as the eponymous pair, first names John and Jane, who, after five or six years of marriage (they can’t agree on which), have become bored with the rut their life together has become and of the separate lives that they’ve begun to lead that is killing them emotionally. We meet them in a marriage counseling session, where it’s obvious that they’ve gotten on each others nerves in a gazillion little ways. And one big one. Neither knows that the other one is a contract killer par excellence. When they both get a contract for the same hit, the hit, as it were, hits the fan as the target escapes unscathed, our unhappy couple learns the awful truth about each other, and each is given 48 hours by their respective employers to take out the other one so as to leave no witnesses.
Extending the metaphor of secrets and lies that can kill a marriage and render it literally deadly is a terrific conceit, especially as played out in the plastic sterility of suburbia as it is here. Alas, the powers that be didn’t want to trust in just that, and so instead of letting that concept do its stuff, seemingly interminable pyrotechnics of a more literal kind were added at every opportunity, and the script became a jumble of disjointed scenarios that prolongs the agony with inanity that fails to work even within the confines of very, very black comedy. Take the duo meeting up at a fancy restaurant, a scene that serves no purpose except to see these two lovely folk dance with extreme prejudice but without actually hurting each other, a happenstance that doesn’t ring true after one has just done something really, really deadly to the other in the previous scene. The plotting in general shows just about as much care.
Pitt has an interesting, even quirky, dork quality here, but maybe it just seems that way because when viewed side by side, Jolie, with her preternatural looks, makes him look like chopped liver. No mean feat. Jolie herself is all lips and attitude, which, along with the requisite lingerie shots, is pretty much all the role calls for. The most interesting thing in the flick is Vince Vaughn as Pitt’s hyperbolic, emotionally stunted partner in extermination who’s still living with his mother because she’s the only woman he can trust. Not get along with, but trust.
What we have here is a vanity piece and, as such, is an object lesson on where the sin of vanity, can lead. Not to mention narcissism. I’m sure if I thought about it long enough, I could work all the seven deadly sins into this, but I’ve wasted enough time thinking about Mr. AND MRS. SMITH.