You can rip “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” apart from virtually any perspective of virtuous behavior and noble artistic endeavors. Deep thinkers are advised to look elsewhere.

But the bottom line is: this adventure flick entertains.

For all its state-of-the-art explosions, car chases and ammunition, the movie is also appealingly retro. Its cathartic sense of recklessness may remind you of the splashy “Our Man Flint” series of the mid-1960s, long before “franchise” supplanted the word “series.” And for what this particular accolade may be worth, it’s superior to either of the similarly natured “Charlie’s Angels” flicks.

The operative word behind “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” is gleeful. The movie is gleefully amoral, gleefully smug and gleefully chaotic.

From a moralistic viewpoint, psychiatrists and marriage counselors will justifiably ponder the film’s suggestion that a little homicidal foreplay may freshen a stale marriage. Also, like many contemporary movies, it rakes up an enormous body count in the name of entertainment.

As for smugness, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play the titular Smiths with the swagger of high-school seniors who enjoy lording it over the freshmen. They know they’re the essence of cool, and they trust that the audience knows it, too. Forget about characterization. Cool is all you need to know.

The film does bear the choppiness of a project that’s been re-written, re-shaped and re-edited. Plot mechanics spin wildly out of control, as you might expect in a story such as this. As most movie fans know by now, Brad & Angie play a bored married couple who, unknown to each other, are hired assassins working for rival agencies. They discover their true identities only after receiving assignments to kill each other.

Through it all, Brad & Angie perform with the abandon of two adorable infants making mayhem out of their beautifully designed playpen. If you could only look away, you might be tempted to walk out. But chances are, you won’t be able to look away. And yes, yes, yes, there is definite male-female chemistry at work here.

On a more adult level, the screenplay has some genuinely clever, sophisticated dialogue as well as a couple of strong supporting turns. Vince Vaughn brings deadpan hilarity to the role of Brad’s colleague, a mamma’s boy who’s also a clumsy assassin. “The O.C.’s” Adam Brody also scores as a bratty terrorist desperate to be taken seriously.

Director Doug Liman deftly handles the big action set pieces as well as more intimate battle-of-the-sexes combat. Glamorous cinematography and a witty musical score are assets.

But basically “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” is the Brad & Angie Show, and they deliver stylishly. Brad puts an occasional good-natured doofus spin into his character, while Angie is more dangerously predatory.

Even with makeup covering her tattoos, she wears a dominatrix get-up with bully self-confidence.


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