Sunday, February 26, 2006

Girls with Guns

The Replacement Killers versus Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Kami over at Incoherent Ramblings was talking about movies she has seen, and of course Mr & Mrs. Smith came up. I can't say I hated this movie, but I don't think I will ever rent it again. It just didn't do that much for me. I don't like either Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie; they are both cute, but I don't think either acts very well. (I keep hoping the next Tomb Raider movie will be better with a new a Lara Croft.)

I keep comparing Brad and Angelina as the Smiths to Chow Yun-Fat and Mira Sorvino in The Replacement Killers. A similar story. Two career criminals that start out opposing each other, develop feelings for one another. But the Replacement Killers (which is also not a great movie, and certainly not the best of the Chow-Yun-Fat-as-assassin movies) I can watch again from time to time. (This movie also has one of my favorite rolls for Jurgen Prochnow)

Both movies contain multiple gun battles consisting of the two principals against other bad guys. The fights may even have better choreography in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, but at the end of the day, I just don't care what happens to the Smiths, while I do care what happens to Meg Coburn (Sorvino) and John Lee (Yun-Fat).

The jeopardy in the Smiths consists of "will they survive." I don't think there is any doubt that they will win the last fight, and live "happily ever after." I just don't see that much suspense in the film. And anyway, I didn't care if they survived or not - they were both mostly without redeming quailities.

In the Replacement Killers there are 2 levels of jeopardy. The main thrust is the saving of innocent lives. There are the lives of John's family, and the life of a young boy at stake. The other level is will the two main characters survive. Given the tone of the movie I think both levels project a real question of what the outcome will be. This gets you to the edge of your seat, the way an action movie should. You care about the saving of the innocent lives.

Further, John Lee tells Meg, how he got into this situation. "All I ever wanted was for my family to be safe." And since that is what he wanted, people used his family against him to force him into the situation he finds himself in. After he makes that speech, Meg Coburn and the audience are on his side. You want his family to be safe, you want him to survive, and you want the two of them to save the innocent life in immediate jeopardy. You care about these people as well as their cause.

While neither of these are great cinema, I think it is a shame that Mr. & Mrs. Smith was such a success, and The Replacement Killers was not. Brad and Angelina are cute, but they just can't act as well as Chow Yun-Fat and Mira Sorvino on a bad day.

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