Normally I’d bemoan any TV show that seems like a run-of-the-mill movie reboot, but when it comes to Mr. & Mrs. Smith, all my skepticism has gone flying out the window.
The only thing this Prime Video series has in common with Doug Liman’s 2005 film is its name. Co-created by Francesca Sloane (Atlanta, Fargo) and Donald Glover, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is more of a delightful reinvention than a stale remake. (In that way, it’s similar to 2023’s Dead Ringers, another astounding film-based series from the streaming service.)
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Mr. & Mrs. Smith turns the movie’s plot on its head.
Credit: David Lee / Prime Video
Whereas the film introduced a pair of married assassins unaware they’re working for opposing spy operations, the show throws two strangers together in a fake marriage as a cover for secret missions. Think of it like The Americans, only with a funnier tone.
Our newlywed strangers are John (Glover) and Jane (Pen15‘s Maya Erskine). He describes himself as “too competitive,” she describes herself as “secretive.” Both are willing to relocate for a new job with a mysterious intelligence company, one whose head honcho only communicates with them via cryptic text messages and the occasional gifted bottle of wine. Upon recruitment, they receive new identities, a new life in a gorgeous Manhattan brownstone, and the opportunity to go on the high-risk missions they so desperately crave. Of course, with their new positions meaning they’re always working in close proximity to one another, how long will it take the fake-married Smiths to develop real feelings?
Their job provides Mr. & Mrs. Smith with its “mission of the week” structure, resulting in refreshingly episodic television that stands out in today’s binge-heavy streaming landscape. It’s a shame, then, that Prime Video is dropping all eight episodes of Mr. & Mrs. Smith at once. Each mission and the show’s cavalcade of impressive guests — Parker Posey! Paul Dano! Alexander Skarsgård! — deserve to be savored from week to week.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a charming spy thriller with sizzling chemistry.
Credit: David Lee / Prime Video
John and Jane’s missions offer plenty of opportunities for exciting set pieces, ranging from suspenseful to bombastic. Tense tailing assignments, classy silent auctions, and high-speed car chases create even more variety from episode to episode, with series directors like Hiro Murai and Amy Seimetz delivering sleek work worthy of a big-budget spy flick.
But the main focus of every installment of Mr. & Mrs. Smith is less the mission and more the ways in which it allows John and Jane to connect. With episode titles like “First Date” and “First Vacation,” the show frames each mission as a relationship milestone, toggling between rom-com and spy thriller at a moment’s notice. Take the first episode, which sees John and Jane staking out a cafe. To pass the time, they inevitably turn to small talk — although Jane is somewhat resistant — and eventual flirtation.
Later episodes examine their relationship further as their connection deepens. Questions of children and parental relations come up, along with double dates with other couples in a seeming bid for some kind of normalcy. On one mission to a glamorous ski resort, John and Jane spy on a couple on the rocks (Sharon Horgan and Billy Campbell) and vent their own relationship frustrations through the lens of their targets. It’s a clever way of combining the show’s various genres and getting at its main questions about the intersections between work, love, and marriage.
These sequences would fall apart without rock-solid chemistry, but luckily Glover and Erskine deliver in abundance. From the initial stages of courtship to their later intimacy, they have a rapport that is at once funny, sexy, and sweet, but never forced. They’re able to bring a sense of real love and concern to even the most heightened spy situations, which only makes Mr. & Mrs. Smith funnier. The results are nothing short of electric, with Glover’s charm pairing perfectly with Erskine’s more guarded deadpan.
With Glover and Erskine as great as they are, and with a story that’s wonderfully self-assured in its own identity outside of the 2005 film, Mr. & Mrs. Smith makes for a darkly funny treat. Trust me, with Valentine’s Day coming up, there are no better spies to spend it with than John and Jane Smith.
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