Murderous marriage: Donald Glover’s ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ series has more grit and depth than the film

Donald Glover follows up his excellent series Atlanta with a new riff on Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the 2005 Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie movie that depicted them as assassins who must try to kill each other.

The new eight-episode series is very watchable—I binged it in a little more than a day—and, while the show has consistent laughs, it gives Glover a chance to go a little heavier on the dramatic side. The original film had a dark sense of humor, but it had a nice, shiny sheen, while this take has a lot more grit and depth.

Glover plays John, and Maya Erskine plays Jane; they’re both loner types who land jobs as hired killers, and they have to cohabitate in a posh Manhattan home—as husband and wife. A lot happens with them in eight episodes. In the first couple of episodes, they adjust and actually fall in love, becoming a real couple. But things deteriorate quickly, and just as they did in the original film, husband and wife have some epic battles.

Erskine is especially good as Jane, a complicated sort who might have some sociopathic tendencies, but she really does want to settle down. She can also kick some major ass. Glover proves himself to be both an effective romantic lead and action hero.

There’s a string of great co-stars and guest stars, including Paul Dano, Parker Posey, Ron Perlman, Alexander Skarsgard and John Turturro. The episode quality varies, but they’re all good, with some being excellent.

Glover and Erskine are one of the more interesting TV duos since Mulder and Scully on The X Files. The ending of the last episode has me thinking this is a one-shot deal, but it’s ambiguous enough to keep things going. I’m actually hoping this is it for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, at least with the Glover and Erskine characters. Their story ends on a perfect note; there’s no need for more.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

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