Mr. & Mrs. Smith was a film released in 2005 with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, where they played a married couple in a rut, who didn’t know that the other one was an assassin, and had to kill each other. The film was a fun action comedy, but one that might be more memorable because it was where the actors met and fell in love, even though Pitt was married to Friends actress Jennifer Aniston at the time, creating one of the bigger scandals in recent Hollywood history and giving years of stories to the tabloids.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
- Release Date
- February 2, 2024
- Francesca Sloane, Donald Glover
Last year, it was announced that Amazon was making a TV version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, with Donald Glover (Atlanta) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) as the married couple. During the writing, Waller-Bridge left the project and was replaced by Francesca Sloane, who had worked with Glover on Atlanta as a showrunner, and Maya Erskine (Plus One) as the new Jane. The TV series has finally been released, and it’s a great watch, especially for the many things it does differently (and a couple it does the same) from the film.
Marriage Is Part of Their Cover as Assassins
There were many things the show needed to do right, but the most important was how it would treat the marriage. This version doesn’t start at the same point as the movie, where they’ve been together for years and are bored with their lives. Here, everything starts when they meet and are already married, as it’s part of their assassin cover. In this version, they work for the same assassin agency and get married for the job before even meeting one another.
That was a masterful stroke by Glover and Sloane as it allows the show to track their whole relationship from beginning to (maybe) end, creating a love story disguised as an action story. This idea also allows for a more relationship-focused story, like Scenes of a Marriage with action scenes, if you will, as audiences see them meet, fall in love, and have actual real couple problems when they’re not killing people or trying to save each other.
It Tracks Their Whole Relationship
Since they meet in the first episode, the TV series does a much better job tracking their whole relationship, both at its highs and lows. The episodes’ titles are named after the many important moments in a relationship, with names such as “First Date,” “First Vacation,” or “Couples Therapy”. It also helps to explain those important moments with great writing and perfectly chosen supporting characters for every mission of the week, such as having to take care of a man-baby in the episode where they’re talking about having kids and whether they both want to, keeping an eye on the couples’ dynamic at every step of the way. Like in Atlanta, Glover’s other TV show, every episode is his own thing, with all-over-the-world missions that allow them to tackle big moments in a relationship.
Every mission having something to do with those moments allows this Mr. & Mrs. Smith to have their cake and eat it too, as it can have action while still showing character development through their actions, reactions, and dialogue. Glover and Erskine have very different energies as actors, and that helped the story, with an “opposites attract” chemistry, but with whom the magnifying glass of so many episodes also showed cracks in their marriage and love without painting any of the characters as the villains. This version of Mr. & Mrs Smith is so good at looking at relationships and their hardships that it’s going to become one of the best Amazon Prime series ever made.
The Characters Are More Important Than the Action
The fact that the show has much more time to explore these characters than a movie ever could helps give them much more importance. In the film, what audiences get to know about John and Jane is that they’re assassins; they are bored, and they used to have the hots for each other, nothing else. In this version, Glover and Erskine play much more layered characters. He’s a mama’s boy who loves fashion, meditates, and wants everyone to like him, while she’s much more withholding and secretive, has a cat, and can be very impatient when she’s not in charge.
Getting to know the characters, their dreams, and ideas about the future also allows the writers to show a couple that might not be perfect for each other, even if they’re in love, as their incompatibilities are bigger and bigger with every passing episode. The weird assassin company that employs them and only communicates through them via a kind of Slack channel even starts to mess with them, asking if they want to change partners, even if that probably means one of them will be killed. Can you have a divorce with someone you still love if that means he or she is going to get killed? Probably not.
Better Supporting Characters
The film had Vince Vaughn as Pitt’s friend, Kerry Washington, Adam Brody, and a surprising one-scene performance by the then-unknown Michelle Monaghan. Those were the only interesting supporting characters, as the film was the Pitt and Jolie show, as they were movie stars full of charisma, sex appeal, and so-hot-it-burns romantic chemistry.
The TV show has many more and better supporting characters who have come into play. From Paul Dano as the nosy neighbor to Ron Perlman as a man-baby who must be protected and will not stop whining, Michael Coel as a rival assassin who is much better at this than the leads, and John Turturro as a man they must extract information from. There are even cameos by Alexander Skarsgård and Eiza Gonzales at the beginning of the show as another couple of Smiths who must kill or be killed.
Even with all those great actors in play, the two best supporting characters who are the most fun and interesting are another couple of older Smiths, played by Wagner Moura (Narcos) and Parker Posey (Party Girl, Kicking and Screaming). Especially her, as she’s as good as she’s ever been in her many great performances before.
All those supporting characters, many of whom appear in more than one episode, allow the TV show to create a unique universe with its quirky, interesting tone, where it looks like everyone is having the time of his life playing these characters.
Both Pairs of Leads Have Off-the-Charts Chemistry
As for the things that both the film and the TV show have in common, what’s for sure is that both pairs of leads have off-the-charts chemistry. As said before, the one between Pitt and Jolie is all sex and proved to be too real, even for them, while Glover and Erskine have a more understated, lovey-dovey relationship. Neither story would work if audiences didn’t believe these people are in love and work great together, so that was the most important thing to nail in their respective stories, and both couples found what made their stories click and be believable.
That chemistry also helps those watching the movie and series to feel connected to the characters and get stressed when it looks like one of them is going to kill the other, hoping, wishing these crazy kids are going to make it work. This is one of Angelina Jolie’s best action movies, and it wouldn’t work if it was just her and Pitt shooting at each other without being something more in the line for them. As for Glover and Erskine, it’s lovely to see them fighting for their relationship even when they hate each other at that precise moment, as they’re not just a couple, but also buddies who love spending time together.
Stream the Movie on Prime Video
Both Have Great Action Scenes
If there’s something Doug Liman knows how to do, it’s shooting unconventional, surprising, and thrilling action scenes. He did it in Bourne Identity with his Mini car chase in Paris, in Edge of Tomorrow, mixing unique kills with humor, and in his Mr. & Mrs. Smith, with one of the best action sequences of all time.
In the TV series’ case, there’s been a rotating group of directors that includes Hiro Murai, who might be one of the best directors working on TV ever, as he’s shot episodes of Atlanta, Barry, and Station Eleven; Amy Seimetz (The Girlfriend Experience TV series); Karena Evans (many Drake video clips and Swipe Night), and Glover himself, who directs the season finale. Those directors also know how to shoot action while giving it a twist, be it on location, color use, and how they shoot it. For example, the car chase in episode four around Lake Como is shot much more chaotically than usual, and the viewer believes they might crash and die.
All those action scenes, both in the movie and the show, sell the stories at their most spectacular and thrilling, creating a spectacle worth the watch. Both stories end up with their house absolutely destroyed after the couple tries to kill each other, even admitting that they had a shot to kill each other but couldn’t do it, proving these two couples of assassins, even if they’re pretty different, prefer love to war.
Stream the Series on Prime Video