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What If You Were Really Ordered To Kill Your Husband?

Posted June. 09, 2005 06:41,   


People often declare that their spouses drive them nuts. Although they sleep next to each other in the same bed, married couples routinely feel like they could just kill each other, albeit fleetingly, at least a couple of times every day.

“Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is a romantic comedy and action film that materializes this familiar feeling into bullets and bombs for a husband and wife to hurl at each other.

For married couple John (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie) Smith, marriage is so tedious that they cannot even remember if they’ve been wed for five years or for six. On the outside, they’re a construction professional and a computer systems consultant, but in reality they’re top-rate assassins working for different organizations. They fell passionately in love without knowing each other’s true identities, but their marriage has since deteriorated and they’re now in couples therapy. One day by coincidence, they find each other in the same place with the same assignment. After sabotaging each other’s mission, they discover who their spouses really are. And they each receive new instructions to eliminate the other.

Unlike the gun fights and explosions emphasized in the trailer, the movie begins with the couple sedately seated in front of a counselor, taking turns at answering questions.

The Smiths’ situation is no different from that encountered by most married couples after five or six years. There seems to be a wall between them, and neither is willing to say what’s really on his or her mind, but the precarious appearances of everyday life are being maintained. Their nondescript names, John and Jane, denote the American everyman and everywoman, as does their last name, Smith.

The reason why a story that may suffice as a verbal comedy needs action to fill it out is because guns, knives, and bombs embody the trajectory of their marital conflict. The action, which starts off with a bullet hole through a Mercedes Benz, progresses through machine guns, rocket launchers, and high-tech mines to the complete pulverization of their conjugal nest.

It’s interesting that Jane is portrayed as a far more potent and independent character than her husband, John. Interrogating a fledgling assassin who holds the clue to solving the case, it’s Jane who beats out a confession with a swift punch rather than following John’s plan to calmly talk their captive into revealing his secret. When John mocks her as a “chicken,” Jane counters by calling him a wimp. It’s doubly significant that the couple is played by Jolie, who already has two divorces under her belt, and Pitt, who recently ended a four-year marriage.

The film’s title is taken from a romantic comedy made by Alfred Hitchcock in 1941. The movie opens on June 17 and is rated for ages 15 and over.

Dong-YongMin mindy@donga.com