MR. & MRS. SMITH (2024)
Season One [Premiere].
Aired On: Prime Video.
Release Date: 02/02/24.
Action. Comedy. Crime.
"Two strangers land jobs with a spy agency that offers them a life of espionage, wealth, and travel. The catch: new identities in an arranged marriage."
There are loud explosions, sexual tension, a few twists and turns, and a sprinkling of dark comedy on Prime Video’s new adaptation of Mr. & Mrs. Smith – but it’s still too early to tell whether the series can improve upon the 2005 feature film of the same name.
This version was created and written by Francesca Sloane and Donald Glover (reuniting from Atlanta), with at least the pilot being directed by Hiro Murai (Atlanta, The Bear). The series is credit as being “inspired by original characters created by Simon Kinberg in the feature film” of the same name.
During a cold opening scene, Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) and Eiza González Reyna (Baby Driver) play what appears to be a couple living together in a remote farmhouse. They also appear to be secret agents or spies of some sort, and when they’re cornered and eventually dispatched by a series of faceless attackers, the show lets on that it’s not afraid to deliver a major amount of blood and gore.
In the next scene, we see “John” (Glover) and “Jane” (Maya Erskine, PEN15) separately in a series of cryptic job interviews for a super-secret agency. John is a former soldier with 13 kills who was dishonorably discharged and now has $300 to his name. Jane was a washed-out CIA candidate. Both are willing to leave their pasts behind … and both seem more than a little desperate.
The pair meet for the first time at a swanky house complete with a pool, stocked wine cellar, and all manner of firearms hidden in secret compartments. At this point all we know is that they’re working together, and part of their cover is being a fake married couple with the last name “Smith.”
Their first assignment is trailing a middle-aged woman and recovering a package – it’s all very mysterious and short on details. John and Jane wonder if they’re being eased in, because everything seems pretty darned normal. And just when you think that might be the case, a house explodes, nine people die, and our titular heroes must improvise a quick escape.
The pilot episode is necessarily heavy on the setup, but there’s enough here to get the general flavor of what Mr. & Mrs. Smith wants to be: a well-made, slick action comedy that’s, so far, more about atmosphere and subverting expectation than either action or comedy.
Glover and Erskine are both solid and play OK off each other, but there’s plenty of time for both their chemistry and characters to deepen. The trust factor here is that Glover is a veteran of two all-time classic TV shows in Community and Atlanta, and he’s reteaming here with several of the key creators from the latter.
Still, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been. Glover was originally set to team up with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the brilliant creator and star of Fleabag. Waller-Bridge has an entirely different style – wry, winking, and just more boisterous – than the relatively dry and subdued delivery of Erskine. Would she have been able to elevate the material, and would the tone have even been the same, or were the creatives forced to change direction when she left the series?
There’s also the question of what’s to be gained in remaking a movie that was perhaps just average, and only fueled by the mega-wattage of its two costars – Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt – who at the time were among the most famous people (and couple) in the world.
Glover and Erskine might not be as ubiquitous, but both are talented comedic actors with enough of a subversive streak to keep things interesting. There’s room to grow, and this creative team is too damned good to give up on early. Whether that will be enough for general audiences to tune in and give it a fair shot remains to be seen.