Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace…
Director Doug Liman and screenwriter Simon Kinberg’s attempt to combine the repartee of the old Battle of the Sexes comedies with the action genre apparently works—there were frequent chuckles and gales of laughter elicited from the audience of which I was a part at a press screening. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are delightful as two killers for hire who work for rival agencies and unwittingly marry each other. (Don’t ask how a couple living together manage to keep their real work schedules and their vast array of weapons hidden from each other. This is an NRA fairy tale, as believable as is the bad aim of their enemies shooting thousands of rounds, presumably in their direction, but seldom hitting them. Why is it in these films, that when the heroes do get hit it is always in the torso, protected we discover by armored vests—but never in the unprotected head?)
I was somewhat skeptical at first at the idea of rooting for two assassins, both of whom admit during one brief lull in the action that they do not lose any sleep over their killings. But hey, when they show up at a restaurant to talk with fellow assassin Eddie (Vince Vaughn) who has been trying to kill them, both are wearing jackets with the logos JESUS ROCKS, so they can’t be all bad, can they? Clearly, if you are to escape into this fantasy, you must, as with the Kill Bill films, suspend all judgment, whether based on reality or Christian values.
The film starts out with our couple facing a marriage counselor whom we do not see. John (Pitt) and Jane (Jolie) Smith admit to having some problems, of there being a space between them. When asked how long they have been married, John replies “Five years,” but Jane corrects him, “Six,” and he meekly says, “Five or six.” Then, when asked how they met, the scene changes to Bogotá, with the words “Five or six years ago.” As the story progresses, the two banter back and forth, even during a fierce gun battle. We also return to the counselor’s office from time to time. Early on, when both are assigned to take out the same criminal, and it is discovered that both are assassins but working for rival companies, each is ordered to kill the other—and so the film moves into Prizzi’s Honor territory. In the sequence in which they are stalking each other with blazing guns, turning their own house into a shambles, they become like the couple in War of the Roses.
Strictly escapist fare, this is one to take in when the last thing you want to think about is reality. Don’t we all find ourselves in that frame of mind at times? However, with some digging after watching the film again, earnest film lovers might use it to discuss issues of intimacy and trust—though this might destroy the fun.