Is Donald Glover's Mr. & Mrs. Smith Series Better Than Brad Pitt And Angelina Jolie's Movie? The Critics Weigh In

 Donald Glover and Maya Erskine on Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Donald Glover and Maya Erskine on Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie exuded smoldering espionage sexiness in the 2005 movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith, earning its place as one of the best action movies of the 2000s. Now Donald Glover has taken over as the titular spy John Smith, who is paired up with Maya Erskine’s Jane Smith in a pretend marriage scenario for a new series that can be streamed with an Amazon Prime subscription. Critics have seen the reboot ahead of its February 2 release, so how does it compare to the action romantic comedy of nearly 20 years ago?

From what we know about the Mr. & Mrs. Smith Prime Video series, it puts a bit of a twist on the movie’s plot. Rather than having spouses John and Jane discover that they’re working for rival spy organizations, the show will see the spies as strangers who are forced into a marriage for the sake of a mission. So how does it stand up to the movie? Charles Pulliam-Moore of The Verge likes how the series reworks the original premise and becomes a layered drama about relationships. The critic says:

Like the film, the new Mr. & Mrs. Smith defines its leads by contrasting their differences long before it properly explores what actually makes John and Jane tick. This John’s still something of a charmer who feels his way through missions, while Jane, the more clinical of the pair, prefers to game hers out. But for all of its immediately obvious similarities to the movie, the way Amazon’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith reworks the Smith’s personal and professional lives turns its story into a far more intricate and thoughtful reflection on what it means to be a married couple.

Kristen Baldwin of EW praises the performances of and chemistry between Donald Glover and Maya Erskine — who replaced Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the leading role, after the latter left the project due to creative differences with Glover. Baldwin gives the series a grade of A-, saying Season 2 is all but guaranteed for a reboot as good as this one. She continues:

No one would have been surprised if this new spin on the married-assassins thriller turned out to be TV’s latest big-budget disappointment. What a happy surprise, then, that this Smith — developed by Donald Glover and Francesca Sloane (Atlanta) — is exactly what it needs to be. Better, in fact. Fueled by nimble writing and the natural chemistry of its two leads, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is the (very) rare reboot that both evolves and honors the original.

Alison Herman of Variety agrees with the above review, calling this Mr. & Mrs. Smith a “new and improved” version of the 2005 blockbuster. The actors make a case for why this story was better-suited for a series than it was a movie, because it takes the time to explore the marriage between John and Jane, the critic says, writing:

Mr. & Mrs. Smith takes place in a world where one can travel from the tropics to Manhattan in a single helicopter ride.. Yet it also feels real, especially as Jane starts to feel more committed to the work as John wonders what else he may want out of life. They’re the kind of arguments that happen around many kitchen tables, though rarely ones with a stash of firearms a few feet away. With a few extra hours of runtime, Mr. & Mrs. Smith builds John, Jane and their relationship into something worth caring about. This version may not make as many headlines as its predecessor, but it stands up far better to scrutiny.

Nicole Drum of rates it a 4 out of 5, saying the deviation from the film’s premise makes the series “fresh and relatable,” elevating the spy drama to an action-packed adventure that’s also a portrait of the challenges relationships face. Drum continues:

Mr. & Mrs. Smith proves that you can reboot something and end up making a completely new and unique creation that not only stands on its own merit, but excels. By making the story more of a character study and less of a glitzy and bombastic James Bond-esque adventure, Mr. & Mrs. Smith invites viewers to both escape and engage — and have a little fun in the process.

Saloni Gajjar of AV Club gives the series a B+, agreeing with the other critics that the relationship is what makes Mr. & Mrs. Smith such a success — which might seem like that shouldn’t be the case for a show about espionage — but Donald Glover and Maya Erskine expertly pull it off. In the critic’s words:

The performances are equally raw, and the credit goes to the lead duo. Glover and Erskine leave no stone unturned to enliven John and Jane’s internal and external dilemmas—and their sexy chemistry. Their exceptional comedic talent has been on display with hits like Community and Pen15. A weighty script like Mr. & Mrs. Smith, even if it’s bumpy, gives them a lot of dramatic wiggle room. Erskine is a marvel, going from playing her teenage self in that aforementioned Hulu series to a total force of nature here. She’s the star, through and through. As for Glover, who co-created the show with Atlanta’s Francesca Sloane, the project allows him work with heartfelt sensibilities, just like he did in that FX gem.

Not only does the Prime Video series seem to live up to the excitement that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie provided 19 years ago, but the above critics seem to think the series is even better. The examination of the spies’ marriage certainly seems to give the subject matter some weight, and other critics agreed, with Mr. & Mrs. Smith holding a Rotten Tomatoes score of 88% Fresh from the 32 reactions so far.

If you want to check out the reimagined premise, all eight episodes will be available to stream on Friday, February 2, on Amazon Prime Video, and be sure to check out our 2024 TV schedule to see what other premieres are coming soon.