Angelina Jolie loves guns.Â On top of knowing this, I have a sneaking suspicion that studios love Angelina Jolie with guns because most men do.Â Who wouldn’t want to see the gorgeous wife/mistress/girlfriend of Brad Pitt kick into high gear and kick ass while shaking her own?
So, while a million wives and girlfriends hold their lovers closer now that the “Wanted” DVD and Blu-ray is out, let’s entertain these men’s ultimate fantasy — a movie smackdown where one Angelina Jolie with guns faces off with another Angelina Jolie with guns.Â When such doppleganger femme fatales clash, who comes out on top?Â When the smoke clears, will it be “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”‘s Jane Smith or “Wanted”‘s Fox that’ll have women checking their boyfriends’ internet histories to avoid becoming the next Jennifer Aniston?
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“Wanted” is an interesting case of comicÂ book adaptations.Â Michael Brandt and Dennis Haas adapted Mark Millar’sÂ graphic novel while MIllar was finishing the series.Â The result was aÂ screenplay that barely resembled the comic series, which focuses on aÂ world where disgusting villains have massacred all superheroes and nowÂ move on to fighting one another. The film “Wanted” focuses onÂ Wesley Gibbons (James McAvoy), a nerdy pushover recruited by Jolie’sÂ Fox to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Fraternity, aÂ organization of ambiguously powered assassins who literally read theÂ threads of fate to determine their targets.Â This “Loom of Fate” allowsÂ the Fraternity to keep good and evil in check.Â With Jolie’s help,Â McAvoy must take out the man who killed his father, the notoriouslyÂ ruthless Cross.Â Highly flawed, Wanted is nevertheless anÂ ultra-violent rookie film that’ll thrill action buffs with itsÂ obligatory set pieces and bombastic stunts.Â This movie is about actionÂ more than story; expect it and just enjoy McAvoy and Jolie tearingÂ through bad guys in frenetic, stylized combat.
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The Defending Champion
Written by Simon Kinberg, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” isÂ a film student’s thesis turned summer tent-pole power flick turnedÂ celebrity love scandal.Â Â The film follows a a couple stuck in aÂ loveless marriage, living totally separate lives in suburbia.Â What theÂ couples do not know is that the other isÂ a highly- rained assassinÂ working for a rival organization.Â When the couples are hired to takeÂ ne another out, far-fetched hilarity ensues in this romantic comedyÂ wrapped in action movie clothing.Â Brad Pitt and Angelia Jolie haveÂ instant on-screen chemistry, and both are extremely believable asÂ modern day assassins with flawed, quirky personalities.Â ThisÂ credibility helps anchor the rather contrived and implausible plot theÂ movie relies on to make a rather smart metaphorical exploration ofÂ marriage.Â It is literally a battle of the sexes.Â Exciting and sexy, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is an enjoyable movie for both men and women as long as they get past the two characters’ obliviousness.
Believability and action are the variables of this fight.Â In “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,”Â Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt make a sizzling on-screen couple, not justÂ because of their looks but also their talent.Â The two totally sell theÂ cookie-cutter couple routine, ambling through their domestic life withÂ pails of resentment and boredom.Â However, when the couple have to turnÂ on the heat, they make you sweat.Â When the couple needs to make youÂ laugh, they make you piss your pants.Â These actors are having fun withÂ these roles and it shows on screen.Â This chemistry is essential for aÂ film that focuses on marriage and on the romantic dilemmas betweenÂ couples.Â In “Wanted,” Jolie and James McAvoy’s chemistryÂ takes a backseat.Â There is no sexual angle here, although the filmÂ seems like it wants to endorse the typical action movie love sub-plot.Â There are moments of flirtation.Â However, these moments straddle aÂ line between romantic and motherly in a way that’s all tooÂ uncomfortable for my taste.Â Â Most likely not intentional, thisÂ murkiness probably resulted from a lack of attention rather than a lackÂ of taste.
Now, the chemistry between Jolie and Pitt lubricates the outrageous premise of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”Â — that a bored couple lives secret agent lives without the otherÂ knowing.Â The couple sells it. Â We are so invested in the warringÂ spouses that we want to believe — will believe — that premise inÂ order to continue enjoying their kinetic journey.Â Thus, believing theÂ premise is a small price to pay when these movie heavyweights argue,Â fight, and make-out for two hours.Â Â There’s no such magic trick in “Wanted;”Â the leads do not make us root for them.Â Jolie is unsure as McAvoy’sÂ love interest. Â And McAvoy seems too confused most of the movie to evenÂ notice the attraction.Â One scene, where the character’s kiss, seemsÂ out of place and forced.Â Being this the case, when the “Loom of Fate”Â enters the picture with its mysterious weaving ways, we find ourselvesÂ questioning how a gigantic loom can “weave” out the future andÂ designate people to be killed in order to maintain the ambiguous andÂ oft-repeated word: “balance.”
Both movies excel in action.Â “Wanted”‘s actionÂ is intentionally over-the-top, embracing its kinship to the comic bookÂ genre.Â McAvoy and Jolie double-flips cars while shooting targets,Â survive catastrophic train crashes, and curve bullets around corners.Â In “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” the couple uses all types of quirky, fun gadgetry to take one another out.Â However cool and ambitious “Wanted”‘s action, “Mr. nd Mrs. Smith”‘s Â action operates on two levels.Â The obvious is the point-A to point-BÂ plot, where the couple must outrun the bad guys while steering throughÂ chaotic streets in a bullet-riddled minivan.
However, these action sequences operate on subtext as well.Â While outrunning the bad guys,Â the couple argues about who should drive, who can drive better, and ifÂ the other knows where they are going.Â Even in the midst of battle,Â these assassins are in the end your typical married couple. All theÂ action in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” serves as a metaphor for commonÂ relationship issues. Â Each action sequence is motivated by aÂ miscommunication, a common feature of any relationship.Â In this way,Â the typical toils and troubles of a married couple manifest on screenÂ as slick, humorous action sequences.
The film’s climatic gunfightÂ serves as a wonderful moment of couples coming together for a commonÂ goal, reunited and reconciled.Â “Wanted” simply doesn’t have this texture.Â Part of me wonders, does it even need to?Â Probably not.
This one’s simple.Â “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”serves entertainment on all levels, but Â also serves up a realÂ connection with the audience by exploring common relationship issues. “Wanted” exists in its own world, taking its bombastic action for granted and paying little attention to character relationships.Â “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” fires on all cylinders while “Wanted”…well, is found wanting. Women:Â Fear “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” more than “Wanted.”