When marriage dampens the fireworks, the bullets start flying between Mr & Mrs Smith in Doug Liman's cracking comic thriller. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie make a sizzling double-act as the titular assassins who exploit a loophole in the clause "till death do us part". Echoing the black wit of the Jack Nicholson/Kathleen Turner classic Prizzi's Honor (1985) but with a screwball pace and doses of hi-tech action, it's not to be missed.
John and Jane Smith are living a lie. Between suburban soirees and picking new curtains, they are contract killers for rival agencies who wind up gunning for the same target (Adam Brody). Quibbling quickly leads to all-out warfare, but it's in the crossfire where they rediscover that missing spark. Sadly by this stage, it's not a marriage counsellor they need but the entire UN peacekeeping force.
"COAXES BIG LAUGHS"
Liman treads stealthily between lightness and dark, coaxing big laughs even while Pitt is cheerfully kicking his onscreen wife in the stomach. He undercuts the violence with a slapstick sensibility and employs rapid-fire editing to match the snappy dialogue. Throughout, screenwriter Simon Kinberg cleverly contrasts the petty frictions of married life with the ruthless hostility between rival killers and the leads carry it off in sophisticated style. Meanwhile Vince Vaughn is hilariously boorish as a hitman who still lives with mum, or as he puts it, "The only woman I can trust!" A busy plot makes for a rambling beginning and a drawn-out finale, but as a hip slice of kiss-kiss bang-bang, Mr & Mrs Smith definitely hits the mark.