ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY Mr & Mrs Smith ★★★ 10.00pm-12.25am 5STAR
I am contractually bound to tell you that this is not the unlikely Hitchcock-directed screwball comedy of 1941 starring Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard; rather, it’s the sly, pistol-packing hitperson romance of 2005 from Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow). Here, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play the bored, sexless, married executive couple who each discover that the other is a private-sector assassin. Things get more complicated when they are subsequently hired to rub each other out. Add the always-good-value Vince Vaughn as a third button man, and assorted other bad guys, and let the massed, athletic, explosive, gun-toting games begin. A good helping of sly wit tempers the non-stop action, while Pitt and Jolie – apparently falling in love while making the film – spark off each other with sensual chemistry. Unless I’m just post-rationalising, based on the sure knowledge that the pair would become Hollywood’s most durable humanitarian power couple when all the shooting stopped. They, and the film, were a big hit.
With a week to go until the release of new movie Jason Bourne, here’s a chance to remind yourself how it all started. Matt Damon is fished out of the ocean with a couple of bullets and a bank account number buried in him, and no knowledge of how they got there. Doug Liman’s movie (yes, he gets the top two spots in today’s roundup) lit a firework under the seat of Hollywood’s thriller community, not to mention the 007 fraternity, and Matt Damon’s blank-faced assassin still strikes sparks on the screen.
Philip K Dick, the sci-fi novelist behind Blade Runner, Minority Report and the Adjustment Bureau, also inspired this, the tale of a future construction worker whose desire for a virtual holiday unlocks a hidden life and unleashes a deadly foe. Lashings of black humour, along with sharp visuals and inventive gizmos help keep this sci-fi caper on the rails, and the snappy one-liners suit Arnold Schwarzenegger’s style perfectly.
Purists will tell you the 1936 version is the one – it’s got members of the Broadway cast, it’s got the Paul Robeson’s definitive rendition of Ol’ Man River, it’s got more of the original script. But this is the movie that cut the mustard at the box office. It’s got Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson in full voice, it’s got William Warfield’s almost-as-good Ol’ Man River, and it’s got all the colour and gloss of MGM at its peak. So what if the paddle steamer is from a different era…
After surprising the movie world with his gutsy performance alongside the high-octane thrills of Taken, Liam Neeson cemented his reputation as a middle-aged action hero with this tale of an American botanist who wakes up after an accident in Berlin to find that nobody remembers him. The Hitchcock/Polanski-style plotting is plain to see, but if you can accept the absurdity of the random events that put him in his situation, you’ll want to know how it all pans out. Director Jaume Collet-Serra obviously had a good time working with Neeson, as they teamed up again three years later for Non-Stop.
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