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MR. & MRS. SMITH – John Powell

mr&mrssmithOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the kind of high-concept action movies that Hollywood often unleashes during the summer months, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a knockabout action-comedy from director Doug Liman. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star as happily married couple John and Jane Smith who, unbeknownst to each other, work as assassins for rival firms. For a while, and with the exception of the occasional trip to a marriage guidance counsellor, all is rosy in the suburban Smith household – until, one day, two different clients hire them to eliminate the same target, and the pair discover the truth about each other. With their covers blown, all hell breaks loose, initiating the mother of all domestics…

Loud, flashy, nonsensical, but generally an enjoyable mess, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is the epitome of the “big dumb fun”. Director Liman and screenwriter Simon Kinberg inject a rich vein of humour and sexual tension into Pitt and Jolie’s characters, and there’s a neat supporting turn from Vince Vaughan as one of John’s assassin buddies, who still lives with his mother. The action sequences are pretty well-handled, but the overall concept did leave a slightly bitter taste in my mouth – I can’t remember another PG-13 movie with such an enormous body count, or such a flagrant disregard for human life and property. OK, it’s a movie about assassins, but the way the cadavers pile up during the course of its 120 minutes is quite staggering. Ultimately, the film may well be remembered for being the project will ultimately (allegedly) was the final nail on the coffin of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s marriage than for its cinematic qualities.

Musically, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a fun assignment for English composer John Powell, who has written a score in the vein of earlier light-hearted action efforts such as Agent Cody Banks, Paycheck and the Bourne movies (one of which was also directed by Liman). With the orchestral ensemble in place, and a healthy dose of synthesisers to embellish the funky modern edge, Mr. & Mrs. Smith swaggers from scene to scene with a great deal of panache and energy, underscoring shootouts and car chases with the stylishness Powell has developed over his last few features. Several cues have a definite Latin edge to their orchestrations (probably as a recognition of John and Jane’s first encounter, in Bogotá, Colombia), which comes to a head during the daringly sexual dance piece “Tango De Los Asesinos”. The film has two soundtracks: a song compilation featuring just one Powell track alongside a bevy songs by artists such as Poison, Soft Cell, Joe Strummer, The Righteous Brothers and Captain & Tennille; and a 45-minute score album with 19 of Powell’s cues. Both are on the Lakeshore Records label.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Bogota (1:37)
  • The Bedroom (1:10)
  • Playing House (1:34)
  • Assignments (1:12)
  • His and Her Hits (2:45)
  • Office Work (2:09)
  • Desert Foxes (2:36)
  • John and Jane’s Identity (2:01)
  • Dinner (4:14)
  • Hood Jump (1:45)
  • Mutual Thoughts (1:02)
  • John Drops In (2:29)
  • Tango De Los Asesinos (4:27)
  • Two Phone Calls (1:52)
  • Kiss and Make Up (1:53)
  • Minivan Chase (2:12)
  • Shopping Spree (4:19)
  • Dodging Bullets (1:20)
  • The Next Adventure (3:28)

Running Time: 44 minutes 05 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS 33828 (2005)

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