Oh, this should have been funnier. With Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) at the helm, and two actors who can actually pull off supernatural bad-assness with a certain believability (at least one of which is a proven funny guy), this movie could have been a riot. Instead, it was a weird amalgam of very funny moments, such as when the Smiths are in therapy, and aggressively pointed Action with a capital A. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, when the mix gels. Here, however, we have two superstars trying to be cool, beautiful, funny, and play up the story.
Someone pointed out that all the hype surrounding Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s personal lives makes you watch the chemistry and not the story, but what I noticed is that the movie is all chemistry and not a lot of story – always a lull right after a major plot point. It’s enough chemistry that Jennifer Aniston will never be old enough to watch this movie without getting a spontaneous ulcer. Does the chemistry build into comedy? No. Does it make the action more exciting? Occasionally. Mostly the best parts are watching them do their independent things in such different ways, and then waiting out the lulls while the plot readjusts to new information.
It should not be a shock to anyone who has seen the preview to reveal that they are both spies or assassins or both, and they don’t know that the other person is. Later, they find out. The story ambles sure-footedly through each event episodically and not particularly interestingly. It is necessary to appreciate the entire movie to know their secrets going in; yet it takes nearly all of the surviving bite out of the film when the reveal happens. Instead of the exciting “now what!” that drives all action-adventures, it becomes more of an exercise in waiting for them to get past this phase and to the next one, whatever it may be. The dramatic irony of the pre-reveal is exciting to us. How will they figure it out? How can they keep this secret so well?
All that tension is lost, and instead we are watching two beautiful zillionaires take aim at each other and ruin their impeccably production-designed home. The action sequences are fun, and the episodes have their own charms; little vignettes of any spy movie you care to think of, ending with a perfectly executed job. Pitt shines the most when he is having fun; Jolie shines most when she gets to suck all the attention in the room into her lips. It’s sort of like the biggest budget black box 2 person play in the world, but sadly, written by the guy who wrote XXX: State of the Union and not say, Neil Labute. Labute could have made this movie sing. Indeed, so could have Jon Favreau (writer and star of Swingers).
It’s uneven, but it’s enjoyable. It’s disposable fun, like a Wetzel dog in the mall before dinner. For your double feature, see this before Batman Begins.
MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 6/10/05
Time in minutes 115
Director Doug Liman
Studio 20th Century Fox