|Mr. & Mrs. Smith|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2008|
"Mr. And Mrs. Smith" is a high-powered action film that keeps you riveted throughout. This film's story is not to be confused with the 1941 Alfred Hitchcock, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith". The stories are completely different and Hitchcock's is a comedy film, while this film is action/adventure, with a little comedy thrown in.
Director Doug Liman takes us on a wild ride through the secret lives of an on-the-surface bored, married couple. John Smith (Brad Pitt) is a hitman that works for one of two companies that specialize in the field. Contractor work is his cover. Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) is a hitwoman that works for John Smith's competitor. Of course, their secret lives are unbeknownst to each other. Instead, the two appear to be a normal, bored married couple. They even attempt to attend therapy sessions.
The on-screen (and apparently off-screen) chemistry between Pitt and Jolie is undeniable. I couldn't imagine any other two actors portraying these two characters. The attraction between the couple was instantaneous. Jane and John met in Colombia while each was on assignment. They use each other to avoid being questioned by the police, as law enforcement officials were looking for anyone traveling alone. A mere few months later, Jane and John tie the knot, despite the discouraging words that comes from their closest friends. John's best friend, co-worker, Eddie (Vince Vaughan) advises John against marriage. Eddie is a typical bachelor and always paranoid about being attacked (understandable considering his profession). Jane's group of gal pals give Jane the same advice that Eddie gave John - don't do it.
Fast forward six years. Jane and John feel like everything is going swimmingly. However, they are unaware at how much their lives are about to change.
When signals appear to get crossed, John and Jane are sent on the same assignment. Using clues left at the scene of the hit, both John and Jane discover that they each have 48 hours to take out the other. Games between the two ensue, and it is a really treat for the audience.
John and Jane take turns hunting down one another and attempting to terminate each other. Each attempt gets more and more aggressive. They try everything from car crashing to gunfire to explosions. After enough cat and mouse, the two race each other back to their house for the ultimate showdown. It is unfortunate what happens to the house, but the excitement and payoff is well worth it. The battle between the two in the house is explosive, literally. Due to societal standards, Jane beating the living daylights out of John can be readily shown in the film. However, when it comes to John kicking some Jane butt, the producers and editors cut around it. An obvious example of this is when John rapidly kicks Jane well she is down on the ground. All we see is John's motions. Jane is fully obstructed by an overturned couch. This is an obvious ploy to avoid bad press about domestic violence. And I am not complaining. I for one am glad not to see a beauty like Angelina Jolie getting kicked and punched. I just thought it was an interesting notation on today's societal standards.
After sufficiently beating up each other, the couple reignites the sexual passion in their relationship. This is to be interrupted though by both of their agencies, as 48 hours has come and gone. The agencies send a huge team to take them out. They surround the house and begin to close in. Prepare yourself for what is about to happen. I will leave it up to you to watch, but it is quite a fantastic visual and auditory sequence.
Escaping with their lives intact, the two proceed to join forces and try to reacquire the original target subject that both agencies wanted in the first place. When certain circumstances cause their plan to fail, they choose to stay together and fight for their lives, and marriage. They make their way into a giant superstore and prepare for the final showdown. It is the two of them versus every agent from the two assassination companies. Exact numbers are not available, however let's just say it was around 100. The ending is pretty predictable, but I will leave it to you to watch for yourself.
This is by far the best Blu-ray video demo material I have seen to date, short of animated films. Some people may be quick to criticize the video for its apparent over-processed look. That is not a transfer issue but rather a filmmaker decision. So all that aside, it is not an absolute pristine transfer, but the color and contrast more than make up for any small detracting details. The Columbian scenes at the beginning of the film are quite astounding. The colors are vibrant and almost over saturated. The black levels add a very deep look to the picture, with three-dimensionality being an understatement. There is no visible grain or blocking. The image is crisp and sharp. Lights and darks are well-rounded, not going too dark and not blowing out the brights. The detail is so crisp that you can see the veins in the eyeballs of the actors during even the medium shots. In addition, you can clearly see the key lights in the actors' eyes. This is usually only noticed by the most trained eye, but on Blu-ray it will be apparent to everyone. If I had to nitpick, the only real drawback to the transfer is the brief grainy sequence that takes place in the desert. It is so brief though that it is barely worth noting. The other distraction is not part of the Blu-ray transfer, but the CGI effects in general. The burning fires after the exploding house sequence is super-cheesy. Also, there is a strange speed-up effect that happens after the mailbox explodes. All of a sudden Pitt pulling the limo driver out of the car and then getting in and shutting the door happens in what looks like at least double speed. This may have been an intentional editing effect and it may have been on the SD DVD as well. Either way it is distracting everytime I see it. It was just surprising to see some poor CGI in such a big budget film.
If at all possible, the audio is far superior to the already stunning video quality. The sound design of the film was already impressive on the standard definition DVD, but the Blu-ray disc takes the audio to a whole new level. Presented in a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track, the audio has the most air surrounding every aspect and the most fully enveloped soundfield I have heard on any film. The dialogue is crisp and clear. The sound effects and editing are even more powerful. The sound designers made great use of the soundfield creating a clear and cohesive soundscape. An ambiance is always present, even in the simplest of dialogue scenes (of which there are not many). There is extreme movement in the surround channels. John and Jane's shooting game at the fair is a great example of attention to details. The bullet ricochets movie nicely through the entire soundfield, and accurately nonetheless. Another example of noticeable sound details is in the sequence where John drops a bottle of red wine onto the white, shaggy carpet. The sequence is slightly slowed down, and the red wine flies out of the bottle. The lapping of the wine can be heard clearly landing in the rear-right surround channel. The motion from the front channels to the rears was flawless. The gunfight and fistfight sequences between John and Jane in the house contain some of the best audio yet in the film. I would say it was even better than the final showdown's audio. And of course when the house explodes, incredible details are easily heard throughout all the channels. While effects are very distinguishable, the overall soundscape is very tight, making you feel like you are in the middle of the action. The LFE channel will definitely give your subwoofer a workout. This disc contains truly impressive audio, both in sound design and in disc's presentation.
The special features on the Blu-ray are only so-so. If you are an audio commentary fan, then you will love that this disc has three commentary tracks. I for one can't image watching this movie and listening to anything but the outstanding DTS audio track. However, the first commentary is with Director Doug Liman and Screenwriter Simon Kinberg. The second commentary is with Producers Lucas Foster and Akiva Goldsman. The final commentary is by Film Editor Michael Tronick, Production Designer Jeff Mann, and Visual Effects Supervisor Kevin Elam. These will be great commentaries for those interested in the editing and writing processes of the film.
The only other real special feature is an assortment of three deleted scenes. None of these are really deleted scenes but rather just extensions of already existing scenes. Also included is "Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene", which is a featurette that talks about budget constraints. Lastly there are a few movie trailers for other Fox films. Oh, and let's not forget that if you happen to have a D-Box chair, this disc fully supports that technology. All the special features have been upgraded from the original standard definition to high-definition.
"Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is an awesome ride that flies right by. This is definitely a favorite of mine and earns a high place in my movie collection. I highly highly recommend this film for it's fantastic Blu-ray transfer. Easily the best live action demo disc out thus far. Titles like this is what the next generation formats are all about. The plot is simple, but strong and effective. And having Angelina Jolie in the film doesn't hurt one bit either.