Do you remember when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt got together? I do not mean being in the same film with each other, though I am talking about Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) today. Instead, I am referring to the time shortly before what the world came to know as “Brangelina,” when they had separate lives, indeed relationships. Memory tells me that it was this movie that brought them together. Because of my traditional Catholic beliefs, I do not like to see any married couples split up, even celebrities. Unfortunately, with the Hollywood crowd such outcomes seem to be as common as breathing, to the point where one wonders why leading lights bother attempting this cherished institution at all? At any rate, we appear to cherish it more than they do. At the same time, occasionally they can make a film that has some truth to it in regards to having a successful marriage, even if it is wrapped in the obfuscation of celluloid.
The title characters in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, John (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie), open our proceedings by seeing a marriage counselor. They insist this is more of a relationship check-up as they are in love and never fight. Pretty soon, though, it becomes evident that there is a disconnect. For example, John is hazy on how long ago they met, but Jane knows it was six years ago in Bogotá, Colombia. They were both in the country in the middle of an apparent uprising working as secret agents. When there is an assassination and the police begin looking for foreign suspects, they do what secret agents do and use each other as cover, pretending to be together. They do not know the real trade of one another, but there is an instant attraction that soon blossoms into marriage. Can you see the issue yet? Jane believes John to be a highly successful building contractor, whereas John thinks Jane works for a design firm. In reality, they are operatives for competing spy agencies, and that is only the beginning of what they are keeping from one another. So far, they have managed to avoid mixing their personal and professional lives. This changes when their respective agencies give them the same target: a young agent named Benjamin “The Tank” Danz (Adam Brody), whose target is actually Jane and John. Our title characters know when and where Benjamin will be, and they arrive via different routes to accomplish the same task. When they spot one another, though without immediately identifying the other, real shots are fired. Before the dust settles, Benjamin gets away, and both are alive. John retrieves a computer, and uses it to discover Jane’s true identity. Jane figures out it is John who foiled her own attempt on Benjamin by re-examining footage of their battle. Their agencies give their operatives forty-eight hours to kill their spouse. This begins almost immediately when they return home, though Jane has her usual 7:00 pm dinner ready and waiting when John gets home. As the meal unfolds, their suspicions of one another are confirmed, and they barely make it out alive. She goes back to her office, while he seeks out his partner in his own organization, Eddie (Vince Vaughn). Jane and John are trained assassins and committed to their causes. Yet, murdering the person with whom they have been in close proximity with, if nothing else, is proving to be a difficult proposition. Separately, they give the other ample opportunity to take the shot, but neither are successful. It is only when they finally meet at a fancy restaurant, the one where he proposed, do they set to harming each other in earnest. It spills over to their lovely suburban New York City home, where their shooting and hand-to-hand combat brings some worried visits from the neighbors. By the time they arrive, however, the true moment of decision has come and gone. With guns pointed at one another, John realizes that he cannot pull the trigger. Jane is surprised at first, but they realize that they do, in fact, love each other and, er, make up. The problem now, however, is that their agencies still want them both dead. This is made abundantly clear when several armed men attack their home. They escape through the basement, but not before a bomb is sent into the basement after them that ignites a gas tank and obliterates the house. They manage to escape, and now it is time to figure out how to extricate themselves and restart their lives. They get some advice from Eddie, who tells them to go their separate ways if they want to live. Their talk, though, reminds them about Benjamin. Using a favor from her own partner, Jasmine (Kerry Washington), Jane gets the location of their one-time co-target. Once they have him, he reveals that them turning on one another had been the plan all along, the hope being is that one or the other, or both, would die. I guess it is not good for spies to be married? Either way, they decide to make a stand in one of those big box home goods retailer stores, apropos of their sham station in life. They are able to defeat all those sent against them, of course. We wrap with them back at the therapist and gleefully reporting that all, ahem, areas of their life are back to normal.
I guess I should not be so prudish when talking about Mr. & Mrs. Smith because they are married. Granted, their matrimony is a ruse, but the one person you cannot fool is God. God sees everything and knows our thoughts before we think them. It is why honesty it is so important, to God, ourselves, and especially to those around us. In a sense, this speaks to the often repeated phrase on The Legionnaire about how God resides in all of us. He would never lie to us, so we should not do so to others. That does not seem to be the case with so many of us. Jane sums this up when, while talking separately to the therapist, she discusses how we all have secrets. What I am not advocating is for the way some in modern society say that you should be a completely “open book” about everything in your life. Even the least faithful Christian could tell you that is not healthy. There is also a difference between honesty and keeping secrets, and both can be boiled down to trust. Trusting in God, like with one another, has its rewards, if not always in this life, then in the next one. Not being honest when called upon to do so, such as in the confines of marriage with vows made before God, then you just might have your house blown up one day.
Of course, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is just a movie, and I pray that your house is never at risk of being blown up. It had also been a long time since I had seen this film, and I had forgotten what a fun little movie it is. It is a slightly humorous twist on the familiar cliché that relationships take work . . . or a hail of bullets. I pray that you do not ever have to face the latter.