Mr. & Mrs. Smith

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John (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie) Smith met five or six years ago in Bogota, during a particularly bloody period of political unrest in Colombia. Though complete strangers, they instinctively pretended to be married when it was apparent that that was the only way to extricate themselves from quite a dicey situation. Despite the clamor and chaos of the attempted coup, love blossomed between the two foreigners.

They eventually wed stateside, but honesty was apparently not one of the vows they exchanged. For each is a spy, and neither John nor Jane has ever revealed their true profession to the other. Fast forward to the present where we find the pair miserable and in marital therapy, now both complaining that the excitement has gone out of the marriage. Because they are unable to own up about their clandestine line of work, this makes it impossible for the shrink to make much headway in counseling the coy couple.

This is the comical premise of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a taut espionage thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie exhibit oodles of onscreen chemistry, here, whether flirting or fighting during this cat-and-mouse caper.

This comes as no surprise, given the unconfirmed rumors that it was their steamy set romance which torpedoed his four-year marriage to Jennifer Aniston. The supporting cast is topped by the capable Kerry Washington as Jane’s girlfriend and the colorful Vince Vaughn as John’s buddy.

The credits also mention Angela Bassett and Keith David, though they must appear in blink-and-you-missed-it cameos. I blinked. The plot thickens when the Smiths are assigned to knock each other off by their respective agencies. What ensues is a sensuous, slowly unfolding waiting game where both participants are armed to the teeth and bent on extermination.

Relying on a relentlessly clever script filled with snappy one-liners and unexpected twists, Pitt and Jolie enjoy their best roles in recent years. The production’s sole flaw is its overindulgence in pinball-style pyrotechnics and giddy gun play. Still, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a pleasant surprise offering a sublime escape for that more discriminating moviegoer with a sophisticated palate.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rating: PG-13 for sex, expletives and intense violence.
Running time: 120 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox

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