Mr. and Mrs. Smith – Movie Review
Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a comedy thriller starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as a married couple who discover they are both assassins.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Title
The title uses the names of the protagonists, a classic title generation technique.
(For more on titles, see How to Choose a Title For Your Novel)
Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Logline
When man and wife assassins discover they are working for rival agencies, they have to decide whether to put love ahead of business.
(For how to write a logline, see The Killogator Logline Formula)
Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Plot Summary
Warning: My plot summaries contain spoilers. The major spoilers are blacked out like this [blackout]secret[/blackout]. To view them, just select/highlight them.
It’s the early 2000s. John and Jane Smith have been married for five or six years, and their marriage has become jaded.
They are both assassins, but neither of them realise the other’s profession. When they met in Colombia, at first they both just needed a partner for cover, but then they genuinely fell in love.
They are both tasked with assassinating a prisoner during a handover in the desert. However, at the desert killing zone, they spoil each other’s plans without either realising who the other assassin is, and the victim escapes.
When the agencies the Smiths work for find out about their failure, they give them forty-eight hours to eliminate each other. At first neither is sure what to do but, after John accidentally shoots at Jane, they declare war.
John attacks Jane’s office twice, and she thinks she has killed him the second time. He finds her in a restaurant, seemingly in mourning, but unable to trust each other they fight. They both drive to their marital house where, after a gun battle and hand-to-hand fighting, they realise they can’t bring themselves to kill each other. But in the morning, the deadline has passed, and now the Smiths have a huge price on their heads…
Two Against the World
After [blackout]assassins destroy their house, they flee in a minivan chased by three carloads of killers who they eventually defeat.[/blackout]
The Smiths [blackout]calculate that if they seize the prisoner they were supposed to kill from prison, they might redeem themselves with their employers. They extract the prisoner, but he reveals he’s just bait – the Smiths’ employers wanted them dead from the start.[/blackout]
Rather than [blackout]running, they decide to make a last stand in a nearby department store, fighting together as a team.[/blackout]
After [blackout]a protracted fire-fight against overwhelming odds, they emerge victorious… and happily married.[/blackout]
(For more on summarising stories, see How to Write a Novel Synopsis)
Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Analysis
It’s probably best if we don’t even go there. The plot makes no sense and relies purely on momentum, set-piece action and its stars’ charisma to hold the viewer’s interest. It starts well, and the action set pieces, particularly the fight at the Smith’s house, are well done. But after the Smiths team up, it all becomes a bit samey, and the ending, battling wave after wave of other assassins, is a bit of a dramatic fizzle.
This is Mr. and Mrs. Smith‘s main strength. As I described in How to find a High Concept if you find a great premise you’re half-way home. Perhaps it’s not quite as original as it seems, as there are similarities to both War of the Roses and True Lies, but the central conceit is great.
With its great high concept premise, all Mr. and Mrs. Smith needed to be a hit was two stars with great charisma. And it got them. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are the best things in the movie: both great looking, but also good actors, delivering the comic lines in particular with great timing.
Much of the characterisation takes stereotypes about normal marriages and exaggerates them in an assassin context. John is clumsy and bull-headed, but a quick thinker. Jane is balletic, better organised, but less able to improvise. It’s hinted that she’s probably the better assassin (she’s killed more people).
Extended footage not included in the theatrical release of Mr. and Mrs. Smith shows:
- The Smiths talking with the heads of the assassin agencies who offer them a deal before the last shoot-out.
- A coda that shows the Smiths holidaying in Italy with a young daughter.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith: My Verdict
Usually this kind of thing would fail for me, but in this case it worked.
Want to Watch It?
Here’s the trailer:
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