Mr. & Mrs. Smith Doug Liman

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Doug Liman
Director Doug Liman's hot streak (which includes Swingers, Go and The Bourne Identity) comes to an abrupt halt in the genre-confused star vehicle, Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play high-level assassins hired to kill each other, the only hitch: they're married to each other. The high-concept premise never rises above its one-note punch line - marriage is a bore - and since there's not much else for the story to cling to, Liman goes out of his way to make the point. After the film's first hour of tiresome dinners, flat repartee and sweater vests, it's hard not to agree.

As for the action sequences, Liman opts for quantity over quality. There are obscene amounts of gunfire but never a clear geography to the shootouts. Random villains fall after being shot once, and good guys escape unharmed from every battle. Considering the premise, you'd figure Liman could have squeezed in at least one decent Mexican standoff. No such luck. Even the film's climactic car chase lacks any of the finesse that made similar moments in The Bourne Identity such a visceral thrill.

And then there's the film's questionable linkage of sex and violence. At the screening I attended, it was the shot of Pitt repeatedly kicking Jolie while she's down that elicited one of the biggest laughs. Their spat, of course, leads to sex. If this is supposed to be a comment on domestic violence, it's treated with a flippancy that's inconsistent with the story's otherwise reverent treatment of marriage.

But here's the bottom line: if you're of the opinion that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are terribly sexy and charming, you'll probably be able to forgive this film's monumental shortcomings. (Fox)