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Mr and Mrs Smith (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Doug Liman and screenwriter Simon Kinberg. Audio commentary by producers Lucas Foster and Akiva Goldsman. 3 deleted scenes. Making a scene (8 mins). Teaser trailer. Theatrical trailer. Inside Look: The Transporter 2.

AT A time when summer blockbusters seem to be pre-occupied with the end of the world, delving into history or exploring the origins of super-heroes, it's refreshing to find one that is content to deal with 'mundane' issues such as marital stress.

Step forward Mr and Mrs Smith, a 'typical' suburban couple (albeit hopelessly beautiful), who seem to be experiencing the sort of trouble and strife that threatens to wreck many a modern relationship.

The spark has gone from their marriage, they have become virtual strangers in their own home and have been forced into 'couples therapy' in a bid to reconcile their differences.

Oh, and they both just happen to be hired assassins without any clue of each other's line of work.

When both get assigned to the same mission by their respective agencies, however, Mr and Mrs Smith suddenly find themselves faced with the prospect of killing each other, prompting the inevitable battle of wits as they bid to salvage their 'failed relationship' while dodging their own bullets.

Doug Liman's excellent urban comedy thriller plays out like a deranged cross between The War of the Roses and True Lies with plenty of twists and turns of its own.

It features a couple of enormously fun central performances from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, whose chemistry is incendiary, as well as some expertly choreographed action sequences and a script that hits the target almost every time.

What's more, it doesn't outstay its welcome, maintaining its momentum pretty much throughout, and emerging as one of the most shamelessly enjoyable 'popcorn' movies of recent times.

Liman has consistently proved himself capable of transforming seemingly routine premises into effortlessly crowd-pleasing movies (witness The Bourne Identity and Swingers) and repeats the trick here, infusing proceedings with a knowing sense of fun that translates well to the audience.

Both of his leads seem to be having a blast, with Pitt, especially, displaying a nice line in self-deprecating humour, and Jolie relishing the opportunity to smoulder while kicking butt in a way that her Tomb Raider persona never quite managed.

Several of the scenes between the two provide highlights, whether it's watching them 'kick the hell' out of each other during an overblown punch-up, or discussing marital concerns with their therapist.

Yet with Simon Kinberg's sharp script to guide them, the banter comes as thick and fast as the bullets - and is equally explosive.

Vince Vaughn crops up, too, as Pitt's best friend and colleague, shamelessly stealing some of the film's most laugh-out-loud moments.

And when the talking stops and the mayhem begins, it maintains the tongue-in-cheek tone of proceedings.

A car chase on a freeway is one of several stand-out sequences, while the shoot-em-up finale feels like a two-way homage to the balletic excess of John Woo and the classic style of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

The only disappointment is that the film ends a little too suddenly, pulling the plug with a few too many loose ends.

But it's a small price to pay for such an engaging affair that provides some much-needed therapy from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

 

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