Mr & Mrs Smith (UK - BD RB)
Scott McKenzie asks our readers to blame Fox for the review déjà vu...
Since they got married five or six years ago, the spark in John and Jane Smith’s marriage has gone out and they have resorted to visiting a marriage counsellor to resolve their problems. Unbeknownst (I love that word) to each other, their suburban upper-middle class lives are a sham and they are both assassins, working for competing organisations. When they are given the same assignment, their paths cross for the first time in their secret professional lives and their growing contempt for each other escalates, along with the violence.
For regular readers of DVDActive this review may have an air of familiarity about it. The reason is that this movie has already been reviewed twice (by Matt and Cas) and the discs are pretty much identical, whether you choose to pick up the region one, region two or this Blu-ray release. The movie’s exactly the same and the extras are too, with no exclusive features so with the only difference being the presentation, is it worth adding this disc to your high definition collection?
What was clear to me from the beginning of Mr & Mrs Smith was that it was a movie based (and most probably sold to the studio) on the idea of getting two of the world’s biggest movie stars on the same screen. Sticking the two most desirable people on the planet together certainly makes great business sense. Everyone who fancies them and reads about their exploits in the tabloids are shoo-ins to watch this movie, whether it was at the cinema or in the comfort of their own home. However, I found the movie suffered from trying to please everyone at the expense of key necessities of filmmaking, most of all the plot.
In order to satisfy the needs of both the male and female contingent in the audience, the screenplay contains a decent number of interesting and exciting scenes, with equal measures of female empowerment for the girls and violence for the guys. However, the story that ties these scenes together is pretty thin. We never really get much detail about the organisations they work for, other than the fact that Brad Pitt seems to work for a tin-pot team and Angelina Jolie works with a team of high-tech super-bitches. The work they do doesn't seem to be that important and neither is the effect that killing people has on their emotional state. And don’t even get me started on the complete lack of response of the emergency services whenever cars flip over or houses blow up.
What the movie lacks in plot it makes up for in the set pieces. The padding down for weapons they give each other on a dance floor is a particularly strong scene and when they turn on each other the results are surprisingly brutal. The choreography of the gunfights is impressive, most of all in the final battle and I wonder if the musical theatre industry might turn to this movie for an adaptation as it continues to run out of ideas. The moments we share with the main characters and their therapist are also enjoyable but this theme is all but abandoned once the action kicks off and we only get a final token scene right at the end.
A few key lines and Vince Vaughan aside, the comedy element of Mr & Mrs Smith generally comes from things the central couple do rather than the things they say, which when coupled with the action make this a very physical movie. However, the lightweight plot doesn’t make it the most memorable movie ever made and if I ever met anyone who said this was the best movie they’d ever seen, I’d tell them to stop reading Hello! magazine and watch Grosse Pointe Blank instead.
Mr & Mrs Smith is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen (1080p) and this is really where this disc has something to offer over and above the standard definition DVD releases. This is a very colourful movie and I’m happy to report that the colours are bright and strong, with good black level and no obvious signs of transfer problems. As expected with a high definition release, the detail of the picture is incredible and if you want to know just how many freckles there are on Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie’s face then you’ve come to the right place.
With DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and plain old Dolby Digital 5.1 options, I was gearing up to give this disc a great score for the audio quality. I chose the DTS-HD option but found a problem in that the volume of the dialogue is significantly lower than the rest of the soundtrack. My surround sound setup is set up with an equal balance and it’s not a problem I have encountered with many discs, certainly not Blu-ray releases, but I found myself adjusting the volume from time to time, struggling to hear the dialogue during quieter moments and having my ear drums blasted during the action. Apart from the volume trouble, the quality of the soundtrack is great and I even had to do a double take at one point, thinking something had hit our living room window when it was actually one of the many nice details from the surround speakers.
Commentaries galore! Not one, not two but three, yes three, but you’d already know that if you’ve got the standard definition DVD because they’re all exactly the same. Commentary number one is probably the best of the bunch, coming from the director and screenwriter. There is a lot of repetition in the information across the extras but this is first time you’ll hear that the movie was made without Brangelina ever having to leave Los Angeles and their chemistry is awkward in the opening scenes because they were filmed on the first day of shooting.
Commentary number two is with the producers Akiva Goldsman and Lucas Foster and what I found most interesting was that they comment on aspects of filmmaking that I would normally attribute to the director and it made me wonder just how much they had to do with the final product. The third talk track is edited together from conversations with the editor, production designer and the visual effects supervisor. There are more technical details to be found here, but it’s quite dry and there are longer silences than in any of the other commentaries.
There are three deleted scenes, all of which would have clogged up the movie and pushed it past its running time of almost exactly two hours. Vince Vaughan’s scene is worth a watch though, just to see him at his improvising best. ‘Making a Scene’ is a Fox Movie Channel show that includes interviews and behind the scenes footage of the filming of the scene where Jane tries to run John down in her car. At only eight minutes long, it feels like the interviews belong in a much longer ‘Making of’ featurette that we haven’t seen yet. Trailers for Entrapment, The Sentinel, The Transporter and two for the title movie round out the extras.
Mr & Mrs Smith is worth a watch if you’re in the mood for a movie with equal portions of comedy and action, with a splash of romance added in for good measure. It may even be a way for the guys out there to get their action-resistant girlfriends to watch a violent movie, but it’s not quite up there with Grosse Pointe Blank or True Lies. This Blu-ray release looks and (to a certain extent) sounds great, but come on Fox, if you want us to fork out even more money for your movies, you’ve got to give us some exclusive content.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Scott McKenzie
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 24th December 2007
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, DTS 5.1 Castellano
Subtitles: English, Castellano
Extras: Director and Writer's Commentary, Producers Commentary, Editor, Production Designer and Visual Effects Supervisor Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Making a Scene, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Vince Vaughan,
Genre: Action and Comedy
Length: 120 minutes
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