The 2005 action comedy Mr & Mrs Smith was good enough that a remake is wholly unnecessary. I mean, how can you top the sizzling on-screen chemistry of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? Then, there are the visceral action set pieces alongside Doug Liman’s genre know-how direction and Simon Kinberg’s witty, high-concept screenplay.
And yet, here we are — an eight-part Prime Video series of Mr & Mrs Smith which is frankly, no one asked for. But co-creators Francesca Sloane and Donald Glover are not here to rehash the same action comedy tone that defined the 2005 movie. They determined to set the show apart from the movie with a few major changes here and there. For instance, they choose to de-glamorise the appearances of two spies played by Donald Glover and Maya Erskine as John and Jane Smith. They look more like typical colleagues working in a nondescript office. They are recruited by a covert spy agency to pose as a married couple and throughout this eight-part series, we see them working on different missions with varying degrees of success.
Interestingly, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was last seen in 2023’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, was originally tapped to play Jane Smith before exiting the project due to creative differences. She was subsequently replaced by Maya Erskine, an unconventional choice to play the spy but it’s understandable, especially given the intention of this series. The first few episodes set the tone right with Mr and Mrs Smith focusing more on the understated chemistry between the mismatched partners of John and Jane Smith. For a while there, their on-screen pairing works and I enjoy watching them bickering and flirting with each other.
Too bad there is only so much these two can do to keep me invested throughout the miniseries. The pace is erratic and some episodes tend to wander around in circles. The story wants to be both serious, funny and romantic but the overall execution is often hampered by poor writing choices. The later episodes made me start losing interest, wondering if it would benefit better for the series to trim down the eight episodes to four or five parts instead.
It doesn’t help either when the action lacks the visceral punches desperately needed for a spy genre. Sure, we get the obligatory shootouts and some hand-to-hand combats. In one of the episodes, we even have an elaborate car chase sequence. But the action set pieces feel rudimentary and at times, an afterthought just for the sake of fulfilling the genre requirement.
The series features some notable guest stars from Alexander Skarsgard and Eiza Gonzalez as well as Parker Posey and Wagner Moura. Their appearances do help to elevate Mr & Mrs Smith, albeit only to a certain extent. Having binge-watched all eight episodes in a single day, the series actually has so much potential if only it carries more dramatic and emotional weights and of course, better stakes. Shame that the attempt at a subtle comedy mostly misses the mark.
Mr & Mrs Smith will stream all eight episodes on Prime Video on February 2, 2024.