"Mr. and Mrs. Smith", while not flawless (and not "Grosse Pointe Blank"), is a feature that works well despite the realization as the credits roll that there's not a great deal to it. Of course, everyone knows by now that stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are a couple, the mere fact of which has somehow managed to be covered in every single edition of every single tabloid in every single country.
The film, from "Bourne Identity" director Doug Liman, stars Pitt and Jolie as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a suburban couple who lives in a large, beautiful and ultra-modern house on a quiet street. The two met cute and got married, despite keeping a rather large secret from one another - that both are actually assassins who are working for rival organizations. The marriage has obviously cooled over the years, and now discussions over decorations and minor dinner changes are the only thing keeping things from falling into uncomfortable silences.
Things get nasty, however, when the two are sent in on the same job - an operative (Adam Brody, from "The O.C.") and find that their cover has been blown by the person they'd have least expected. From there, "Smith" turns into a more violent "War of the Roses" as the two, despite still being together, wage war on each other in their suburban estate. However, when it becomes clear that their bosses want them eliminated, they realize they have to turn to each other.
Liman, who brought urgency and tension to even the quietest moments of "The Bourne Identity" manages to handle both the action and dark comedy of "Smith" wonderfully. Pitt, who proved he was a surprisingly sharp comedic talent in "Ocean's 11" has the same off-beat delivery here, and it works well. More surprising is Jolie, who successfully gives the performance a bit more warmth and dark glee than she has in her roles in the past. Vince Vaughn also steals a few scenes as a co-worker who lives with his mother.
Director Liman and writer Simon Kinsberg wisely keep things light for the most part (one scene where the two yell schoolyard insults from one building to another is amusingly played), and yet don't go so breezy that the film loses urgency and we lose interest. The two stars also manage to portray their subtle inner feelings for each other well during the film's few quiet moments. Technically, the film is superb, with well-choreographed action sequences, excellent production design, slick cinematography and a superb sound mix.
Overall, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith"'s mixture of very dark comedy and action certainly walks a fine line, and yet Liman and the two leads have managed to work it out well. There's some definite flaws here - some logic issues, not to mention not much of a "villain" - but the battle - verbal and otherwise - between the couple - manages to carry the picture well.
This "Unrated" edition of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is five minutes longer than the original cut of the movie. However, some elements have been dropped and replaced with other elements. There's a fair amount of changes, including: starting with a slightly extended dance sequence early in the picture. The Adam Brody character's introduction is also later in the movie, as the original introduction has been replaced with a different domestic scene. There's a bit more between Vince Vaughn and Brad Pitt that's funny and worked well. An additional tiny bit with a curse is new, as the PG-13 cut was only allowed one of that particular curse. There's also some additional dialogue, sex (slightly more) and action (including some changes to the final action scene) moments between Pitt and Jolie. Additionally, this edition of the movie sticks with the Pitt and Jolie characters throughout the entire picture. Some of the material added here would have resulted in an R.
The new cut of the movie didn't seem vastly different and while it wasn't much better than the theatrical version, the addition of some character moments did work in the movie's favor. Where a lot of "unrated" DVDs feel like they have have a couple of random minutes back into the movie, this edition had noticable additions/differences and "felt" like a different cut of the movie - although again, one that wasn't massively changed. Fans will likely find the alterations of interest.
VIDEO: "Smith" is presented by Fox in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Picture quality is mostly very good, although there are some minor concerns that present themselves on occasion. Sharpness and detail were largely great, although a few moments appeared slightly softer than the rest. Problems included some very minor edge enhancement and slight artifacting, but thankfully, no print issues or other problems were spotted. Colors remained rich and bold, and did not show smearing or other issues. Video quality was the same here as on the first release.
SOUND: "Smith" is presented by Fox in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. The film's sound design is first-rate, presenting the film's several major action sequences in an immersive and hard-hitting manner. Surrounds kick in during the film's major action sequences, reinforcing the score and delivering an enjoyable amount of ambience and sound effects. Audio quality was excellent, as the dynamic soundtrack featured strong bass and effects with plenty of force behind them. The front soundstage remained wide, active and highly involving throughout. Dialogue and music also remained crisp and clear. Sound quality was also the same.
EXTRAS: The three commentaries that were offered on the prior release have been dropped. In their place we get one new commentary from director Doug Liman. Liman's new commentary does go over some of the issues from the commentary on the prior release, but I still liked this track quite a bit. Liman discusses not only the director's cut, but the process of putting together the theatrical cut and the reasons for the changes here. We also get some amusing tidbits (the film's temp score was the score from "Agent Cody Banks"), discussion of studio pressures, how situations with "Bourne Identity" influenced "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and how a lot of "Bourne" footage was deleted, budgeting (it's impressive to hear about ways that Liman did scenes for less), working with the actors, tone and more. The commentary does have a few moments where Liman goes off on praising the cast and crew, but it's mostly a very informative track.
The second disc starts off with the "Confidential Files" section. There you'll find 12 deleted scenes (including an alternate ending), the script for a different ending and a gag reel. Additionally, there's a bit of Wedding (for the Pitt/Jolie characters) footage hidden (although it's pretty easy to figure out how to unlock) here as well.
"Domestic Violence" is a 33-minute "making of" looking at the history of the picture. The opening discusses how the script finally found a home after being shopped around quite a bit with no success. After that, the documentary launches into a look at the making of some of the main scenes in the movie, mixing fly-on-the-wall footage (sometimes showing different angles) of the cast and crew at work with interviews.
"Doug's Film School" offers a number of different features to check out, all of which have intros from Liman. The first is "framing device", which features the Adam Brody character essentially telling the story to a woman at a bar. I'm thankful that this material was left out, as it would have really made the movie suffer. It's just a bad idea.
"Mother and Father" shows footage of Terrence Stamp and Jacqueline Bisset, as well as Keith David and Angela Bassett. Both pairs played the "Mother and Father" characters, which were ultimately deleted from the picture. Interesting stuff, but the movie doesn't need it.
"Snowy Ravine" revolves around a sequence that was not included because of cost and other reasons. Instead, the film went with the desert sequence that's in the final film. We get the pre-visualization (animated storyboard) for the sequence) combined with some of the footage that was shot for it. Additionally, there's a featurette about shooting the scene, which would have ended with a fight between the Jolie and Pitt characters. Definitely cool footage to see. Also in that section is a featurette about shooting the desert scene, as well as script pages for both the ravine and desert sequences.
"Hood Jump" shows the terrific animated storyboards for the sequence and has Liman discussing the pros of doing animated storyboards to plan out a scene prior to shooting. There's also script for the scene. "Underground Garage" has a look at the original location of a scene. Script for the scene here, as well.
"HomeMade" sees a different start of the final sequence, which takes place during the daytime. There's also two storyboard sequences, an intro and screenplay segment.
Finally, we get 7 pre-vis sequences (including some for scenes that were abandoned) and three image galleries (crew photo album, director's photo album and producer's photo album).
Final Thoughts: "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" puts the Pitt and Jolie characters center stage and, despite some well-done action sequences, it's the on-screen relationship between their characters and the performances that have to carry the movie, and - for the most part - it works. Fox's new DVD edition provides a new cut of the movie that, while not that much different, does bring some improvements. This edition does provide the same audio/video quality, but also a lot of nice, new extras. Recommended for fans.