Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) *

Directed by Doug Liman. Written by Simon Kinberg. Photography, Bojan Bazelli. Editing, Michael Tronick. Music, John Powell. Production design Jeff Mann. Produced by Arnon Milchan, Akiva Goldsman, Lucas Foster, Patrick Wachsberger and Eric McLeod. A 20th Century Fox release. 2 hours. PG-13. Cast: Brad Pitt (John Smith), Angelina Jolie (Jane Smith), Adam Brody (Benjamin Danz), Kerry Washington (Jasmine), Vince Vaughn (Eddie) et al.

The worst film I have seen in some time. Theoretically it is a thriller. In practice it is junk. Very long, very expensive junk.

The makers must have been counting on the Pitt/Jolie “new” or latest Hollywood couple that takes up an obscene amount of space in the pop media. Currently, a magazine devotes 60 pages to them. And readers who cannot find Columbia or Brazil on the map know all the news that’s unfit to print about Brad and Angelina. This, among other items, follows the old news about Is this a twenty-first century equivalent of ancient Romans savvy in gladiator games?

Jolie and Pitt are supposed to be “beautiful people” but it all depends on your standards of beauty. The fact is that you can spot Pitt-like guys in any crowd. At least, his makeup is discreet. Jolie (which means “beautiful” in French) is distinctive, but at what price. She reminds me of a stay in Paris some years ago where the American lady I am married to attended a session on make-up. When she mentioned the looks of a popular French movie actress, the French lady in charge of the seminar reacted with an admiring “ Mais, Madame, c’est une femme totalement fabriquee”, “But, Madam, she is a totally fabricated woman.” So much for Ms. Jolie, her tattooes, her collagen by the pounds and such—although I did think she was sexy in Oliver Stone’s “Alexander” of 2004. Perhaps the Smith & Smith could have improved a tad by some snakes.

Another mega-reservation is this film title’s desecration of the great Alfred Hitchcock who made, in 1941, his excellent “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” the sole fully funny comedy in his repertory. But of course Hitch included and worked in witty comic elements in practically all his movies – not just in “North by Northwest.”

To get down to business, the current flick deals with the Pitt-Jolie couple as a duo that met in Bogota (Columbia) “five or six years ago,” a recurring gag that supposedly says a lot about a marriage that currently is on shaky grounds.

From the time they met to the present – and here is another gigantic impossibility –neither spouse knows what the other does. Instead, she thinks he works as a construction engineer, he thinks she works in computers. Neither guesses that the other is a killer for an undetermined agency which assigns “marks” –people to get rid of. The nature of those organizations will never be revealed. Never mind that in and around their house, there are his and hers panoplies –no! arsenals –of beyond state-of-the-art equipment of all possible machinery, weapons, electronics –plus dollars.

Just as bad and confusing are the couple’s behaviors. Whenever he leaves the house he removes his wedding ring and stashes it in the glove compartment. On his return, he puts the ring back on. Is there a mistress somewhere, or what? Another sortie takes him to a group of disreputable-looking poker-players. He somehow succeeds in joining them, executes them, takes all their cash. At about the same time, she goes to a different, also disreputable sort of place, changes her chic clothing to sexual dominatrix stuff and administers a flogging to a masochistic man, then a killing. What those murders signify is your guess.

Later, both she and he, heavily armed, using state-of-the-art night- and day superbinoculars (which I don’t exist in real life) and oddly garbed, we find her in some desert trying to catch someone. And he gets there too, etc. etc. The world is full of coincidences. Never mind logic. What is relatively clear is that both agents have somehow been asked to kill one another.

Note that the all-female staff does not contain a single beauty, a fact which I read as a careful avoidance of good looks by others competing with Angelina Jolie’s. (That’s a sort of monopoly).

Fabrications (plural) fall like avalanches on the movie audiences. Yawns are born every minute. The movie’s continuity is zero. In Pitts’ case, his immediate superior (Vince Vaugh who must be wondering what the whole filmic mess is about) often meets him (Pitt) in the house he (Vaughn) shares with his beloved, but never, never seen mother. Given the Hitchcockisms of the picture I wondered if Mom would pop up, in “Psycho”-like fashion. That did not occur. However, as the movie rolls on and on and on, there are car chases that could boggle the mind, were the viewers’ brains functioning, something that belongs to fiction and not science.

Along with Hitchcock, the picture desecrates kitsch. Even a tango (performed by him and her, along with several senior citizens whose joints allow only a shadow of the Argentine dance) in some odd place (typical of the movie throwing in unrealities) is, in fact, a false tango.

I’ll skip about many, many more dumb examples which load the picture as heavily as a huge merchant-ship carrying Toyotas from Japan.

Other sequences move the action to the couple, in a car, being chased by many potentially lethal cars but surviving. Later, in their lavish, tacky, over-furnished house, he and are shooting at each other, with no major results to speak of. The duel, a gross impossibility, develops into sex (yes, by the bloodied duo), a kiss-but-no-tell sequence. It coincides with ever escalating series–in sound and fury—of attacks from mysterious outsiders.

Is this an idiot motion (lots of it) picture? Yes, but this is being kind to it. Is it absurd? No, that is too mild an epithet. Will hi-tech lovers like it? Not unless they’re not aware of their own strings of yawns. Should any members of the film’s crew be congratulated? Definitely, given the mad, mad, impossible action of a flick that principally amounts to high-decibel violence.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel