Review by Sean Boelman
Most people probably haven’t thought about Mr. & Mrs. Smith for decades, but if there is any justice in the world, everyone will talk about this new version. Co-created by and starring Donald Glover (Atlanta), Prime Video’s new action comedy is one of the most fun and bingeable series in a while.
Inspired by the 2005 film starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Mr. & Mrs. Smith follows a married couple who are actually assassins assigned together as partners by their agency. The choice of the phrase “inspired by” is deliberate, as this is not quite a remake. They share the concept of “married assassins” but approach it very differently.
It does take some time for this new vision to find its rhythm, as the first episode is a lot of set-up, making the tone feel much more straight-faced and dour than you would expect. However, once this is all out of the way, the show is able to strike the right balance between humorous and exhilarating, with plenty of heart thrown in for good measure.
The show also does a great job of striking the balance between intimate and epic in terms of scale. The effects, production design, and cinematography are all very good when the Smiths go on their missions, giving audiences some really fun action sequences to enjoy. It’s much better made than many action-comedies that make their way to theaters these days.
As absurd as its concept is, Mr. & Mrs. Smith works because it’s firmly grounded in the central couple’s relationship. Although many of the metaphysical trials and tribulations are familiar territory, the show manages to stay refreshing by highlighting that even though these people have *much* bigger fish to fry, they still have “normal” problems, too.
The other part of selling this concept is all on Glover and Maya Erskine’s shoulders; luckily, they have incredible chemistry. Both have such a natural charm that gives them a formidable screen presence individually, but when their talents are combined, they’re simply irresistible. These roles require quite a bit of range — there’s humor, physicality, and vulnerability in equal spades — and Glover and Erskine both pull it off very well.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith also has a massive roster of incredible guest stars. Although many of these castings are available online, it’s better for you to go in not knowing. The episodic structure of the show format lends itself to this premise nicely, as it allows each episode to be a mission, and the targets (as well as some other people our duo encounters along the way) are a ton of recognizable faces who are clearly having a ton of fun.
Against all odds, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a genuinely enjoyable new spy series. However, considering the talent involved, maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised. If anyone were going to take a 20-year-old property and make something genuinely unique, thrilling, and refreshing out of it, it would be Donald Glover.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith streams on Prime Video beginning February 2. All eight episodes reviewed.