Wedded blast: Is murder best aphrodisiac?

For Angelina Jolie to act sexy is as senseless a waste of energy as for Chris Rock to act black. It's coals to Newcastle, fuel to the flame. When you are as sexy as Jolie, you don't have to act sexy. You don't have to act at all– although she can, and that's a plus.

Don't try this at home, but the message of Mr. & Mrs. Smith is that if the honeymoon is over and your relationship is coasting on fumes, you can spice up your sex life by trying to kill each other.

The movie begins where many relationships eventually end up: in couples therapy. John (Brad Pitt) and Jane Smith (Jolie) have been married "five or six years" (that they can't agree on which is a bone of contention) and aren't even going through the motions anymore.

Both work as hired assassins for rival agencies, but neither knows about the other's work, even though they met helping each other out of a tight spot in Colombia by pretending to be together. He runs a construction company, she a temp agency, as cover. Wherever in the world their real work takes them, they try to make it home for dinner at seven.

Things come to a head when their agencies assign them both the same target: Benjamin Danz (Adam Brody). They manage to get in each other's way from too great a distance to be identified, and neither is successful. The agencies identify them and order each to kill the other.

With their covers blown, this might be a good time to sit down together and talk things out. The trouble is, if they don't kill each other, someone else will finish the job. As they make their attempts on each other's lives, it's clear to us– if not to them– that they still love each other.

At this point the action comedy swings way to the action side as the Smiths take on what seems to be the entire espionage community. They get another shot at Danz, who happens to be wearing a "Fight Club" t-shirt, and we get the impression that if they worked together, they could win the Iraqi War– for either side– without assistance.

Each of the Smiths is assigned a best friend for a sounding board. John's is Eddie (Vince Vaughn), who lives with his mother, "the only woman I've ever trusted." Jane's is Jasmine (Kerry Washington), who works at her agency.

Like the stars, the production design is sleek and state-of-the-art. Yes, the movie's garishly overproduced, but that just may be part of the joke. Director Doug Liman combines the humor of his Swingers with the explosive tension he brought to The Bourne Identity– like a collaboration between Nora Ephron and Jerry Bruckheimer.

Between Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The War of the Roses, and Prizzi's Honor (okay, they weren't married), 20th Century Fox is wreaking more havoc on the institution of marriage than all the same-sex couples combined could if they wanted to.

Speaking of wedded bliss, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a movie couples can enjoy together without either party feeling compromised. It's also a movie you can watch with a constant smile on your face. If it weren't punctuated by occasional laughter, your face might freeze that way, just as your mother warned.

Does Mr. & Mrs. Smith end happily? Well, you know Hollywood will want a sequel, and as Jane says, "Happy endings are just stories that haven't finished yet."




Holiday 36