Sometimes casting speaks for itself, so when the announcement of rebooted Mr. and Mrs. Smith came through with Donald Glover attached to star, co-create, and produce, I was totally on board. Alongside him is the amazingly talented Maya Erskine (who you may recognize from voicing Mizu in the Blue-Eyed Samurai) who was an excellent choice to replace Phoebe Waller-Bridge. If your curiosity was peaked by the fact that it has the same name as the 2005 film, there’s absolutely something new for you in this revitalized streaming series from Prime Video.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith takes itself a lot more seriously than the Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt action-comedy film that inspired this reboot. Throughout the series, John and Jane Smith (Donald Glover and Maya Erskine) are tasked with many missions that never go the way they planned. Here’s the big change from the movie: John and Jane aren’t previously married or hiding their professions from one another. In this case, both are recruited by “Hihi” aka “The Company” and are placed together in a fake marriage. Whether they make the marriage work, and how… I will allow you to watch and find out for yourself.
[Warning: spoilers from Mr. and Mrs. Smith are below!]
This isn’t your standard nuptial for Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Look, marriage is hard. Now compound that with working with your spouse, except, you didn’t pick your spouse! That’s a tough sell, being entangled with a complete stranger and getting cryptic assignments only through text messages.
That doesn’t even begin to explore the nature of the work itself. They’re spies. They collect intel, take out targets, and provide briefings of their successes or even failures. The work is complicated by nature, and now the relationship has to form. This is the basis of the entire series, seeing them come together in both aspects of their new lives.
In this marriage and job, they don’t know each other’s real names or anything beyond what they were allowed to tell and be told. All this is governed remotely by “The Company”, of course. A wonderful house is provided in an impossibly expensive neighborhood, which was personally constructed and furnished with enough firearms to make John Wick feel equipped. Underneath the lush couches and beautiful kitchen countertops remains the truth of it all, they live, die, and succeed by the directions of this shared employer.
Jane truly is the lead of this series, not by the screen time but by her more pivotal role within the relationship and her growth alongside John. Again, this is an arranged setup, but throughout their missions, they develop true feelings for one another that force the most intense moment of the season to produce three special words: I Love You.
Another strength was putting Jane in the position to save John’s life, instead of the man-saves-woman moments that we are used to. It really rose to surface how John’s arrogance about his own skills could have cost him his life. But more on that later. This often allowed Jane to figuratively and literally pull a trigger on his behalf.
Donald Glover and Maya Erskine play spies with weight to them
Spy shows or movies always have a few things they have to hit: an interrogation scene, a kidnapping, nice cars, beautiful locales, gunfights, and hand-to-hand action. I’m thrilled to report that this one has all of the above. But one thing I really enjoyed was the simplicity of what they had since there were no crazy high-tech gadgets or heavily kitted supercars. Instead, they rode in the luxury of an SUV Maserati and had believable intercoms for when they were on missions. The highest fiction would have been a truth serum that enhanced a great conversation between the leads.
On a kidnapping mission, they’re lured to Lake Como, Italy to snag a morose target (Ron Perlman). Perlman’s character is the first target that has them at odds with one another on the supposed directive of the mission. It’s a wonderfully divided operation that ends up driving the decay of their relationship. One mission has them drugging John Turturro’s real-estate mogul character, how it ends is quite surprising and the first small push that tested their ability to bounce back from unintended consequences.
For a pretty serious TV show, there was still a lot of budget allocation for the fighting and shooting because WHEW, there was a healthy amount of it. Hand-to-hand might have been my favorite just because there were several layers of bulletproof plot armor conveniently behind every corner and even in the wide open spaces for John and Jane. It partially bothered me that they had expert shooting during missions but then when it really counted, they turned into Stormtroopers. It wasn’t just about bullets flying around, there were impressive and unconventional moments that left me in absolute shock (one, in particular, was watching John smash one of his potted succulents to incapacitate someone else, I still laughed though).
John and Jane Smith: spies in love
John and Jane’s spy abilities leave quite a bit to be desired at first. There’s always growing pains and sometimes you have to learn on the job, this one provides no manual or even a trainer. Add in the relationship and the pressures start to boil over but it’s the tenacity of both of them to overcome and improvise. Morality plays a big part in their motivations too, as you see John make a stupid decision since he’s strongly protective of his mother and this sets him to risk his life for another mother.
John’s repeated heroics, while admirable, are truly stupid as they don’t fit to serve the job they were set to do, and he believes himself to be much more capable than he is. Even after multiple saves from Jane, he refuses to accept that he should listen to her.
Although forced into faking a relationship, they’re aware that they have to sell the appearance while out and about. The more jobs they pull as “high-riskers”, the more cash they can stack with contracts having hefty payouts in the six-figure ranges. At one point, they even befriend another couple and invite them for dinner and eventually, they deeply discuss relationships, which leaves an impact on Jane.
Now, the specifics of their entanglement and how they proceed to care for one another are best experienced solely within the episodes. But there is one that stood out to me, even for how “basic” it was. What mattered more was Erskine’s hurt delivery of her line in her revelation to John that she had him marked down as her Emergency Contact. Yeah, it’s kind of a no-brainer to put your spouse as the emergency contact. But Jane is a very emotionally reclusive person, so hearing her saying it to John truly put out there how much she had let him in.
Other things I loved in Prime Video’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith
There were a couple of other fantastic actors beyond the ones I’ve already mentioned. Couples therapy features Sarah Paulson as a therapist, and the structure of storytelling made this an episode I will never forget. Wagner Moura and Parker Posey make appearances as a couple that John and Jane run into. Seeing Glover doing his best impression of Moura had me belly-laughing, as I used to watch Narcos religiously when Moura starred in it.
Another popular Netflix production actress, Úrsula Corberó of Money Heist fame, also pops in as an “ex-girlfriend” of John’s. Lastly and my personal favorite was Paul Dano as the neighbor next door who makes a few showings and leaves lots of intrigue for viewers to decide throughout the season.
Whether or not we get more Mr. and Mrs. Smith is left ambiguous on purpose with a fascinating ending to the show. One thing I will give you a heads-up on is in episodes 7 and 8. Stick around a few moments after the credits. If they do decide to carry on into another season, I promise you, I will be there from day one.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith begins streaming on Prime Video on February 2, 2024! Have you seen the original movie, what about the trailer for the new show? Join up and chat about that final scene with us on our social media platforms @mycosmiccircus, we even have a Discord with spoiler chats to discuss freely with other fans!