I suppose there’s only so much that can be done in the action genre that is new or unique, and so we’re stuck revisiting the big hits of decades past, only to come up with remakes that have no original marrow in their bones. In the ever-changing realm of entertainment, where we often find solace and inspiration in the past, it’s becoming common to see people dabble in the old to bring something new that is inevitably unworthy. It’s just got me wondering: Is there a limit to creativity, or are we simply stuck in a loop of nostalgia now that we’re getting older and (not to be too harsh but) boring? The recent exploration of the early 2000s vault brings us to Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a small-screen adaptation inspired by a modern classic from back then. While the original film delighted audiences with its perfect mix of fiery chemistry, action, and charm, the TV adaptation seems to struggle with expanding a concise plot into an eight-episode series. Honestly, at this point, I’m left believing the words “some things are better left untouched,” because how do you get these two incredible actors with fantastic comedic timing to make a dull series that feels like you’re watching your parents getting marriage therapy?! Of course, I understand why this would’ve been a perfect idea on paper. A racially diverse spy universe will make the old nostalgic and the young overexcited; however, I reckon a new racially diverse spy universe would’ve been better than using an already existing, near-perfect one because it makes one compare the two. Unfortunately, Mr. & Mrs. Smith leaves much to criticize, which is a real shame.
I suppose, like the makers banking on Donald Glover’s star power, I had myself overestimated what might come out of this show, and that’s possibly why I’m left extra disappointed. The show follows a spy universe in which men and women who work for a company get paired as partners, not simply on assignments but as life partners. But there isn’t just one John and Jane Smith; there are a dozen who all work for the same company. Our John and Jane are played by Glover himself and Maya Erskine. Considering the original got everyone squealing because of the chemistry between Brad and Angelina (plus, it being the controversial set they first met at), that’s the first thing one would look for in a remake. In the new series, there’s simply no time for chemistry. It goes from awkward politeness to jumping at each other. This is totally fine; it’s a rather common trope in TV shows today; however, I can never keep up with timelines because, for some reason, you’re simply meant to understand that months have gone by within two episodes. I don’t understand; give me references! With the material they’ve got, Glover and Erskine try their best to keep things fiery, yet somehow it fails to impress; moreover, it feels like it came out of nowhere.
I acknowledge that there are some moments in the series that will have you smiling to yourself and even give you butterflies, but they’re fleeting and distant. On the other hand, the action is… good. Some James Bond-like moments, car chases, hand-to-hand combat, dynamite, guns, knives, truth serums, machetes—you’ve got it all. Somehow, though, the whole thing comes across as a little bit facile and underwhelming. Visually, of course, you can tell this is a big-budget series. It’s almost as if Amazon is intentionally producing mediocre spy-action shows, making us as an audience feel stupid for expecting anything better. Take Citadel, for example. It has a massive star cast, a huge budget, and yet a laughable plot that leaves you wondering why you wasted your time on such a show. I don’t think we’re expecting too much; I think we’re simply being taken for granted, seeing as how these shows are widely anticipated and then get ripped to shreds.
At least knowing it’s got Glover, the music is fantastic. On the other hand, I can’t say the same for the comedy, which feels like taking a bite of a beautiful mango slice only to realize it’s overripe. Gosh, the disappointment. The best parts of the show are when the two leads are just getting to know each other, having small talk, and a little banter here and there. There is chemistry, yet it’s underutilized or used for really cringe-worthy R-rated comedy, which feels messy and out of place. There are a dozen cameos by popular actors (no, really, these are big names), yet there are just as many dull moments. Not even the excitement of a new character in every episode got me wanting to keep watching. Although, I will admit, the highlight of the show might’ve been the one all-white outfit donned by John and the fact that Jane wears wide trousers as a spy and makes them work.
At the end of the day, Glover and Erskine are meant to carry the entire show on their shoulders, but it crumbles for the most part. I suppose there’s enough substance to understand the two as characters, but it’s not enough to keep you hooked on the show. Yes, I like these two characters, and I do want to root for them, but at what cost? Definitely not wasting 8 hours just to wait for them to redeem the show in the few moments that Glover and Erskine shine through. The dialogue is mediocre, too, and there are some bits that really had me worried for the writers (Glover, are you okay?). Is the show amusing? Mildly. Is there some originality to it? A little bit. Do you come out of it learning something new about spies? Not really. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that this is a “mid” show, which has really broken my heart. I really wanted to like this; in fact, I even opened myself up to the mix of the two genres I detest together (I’m only talking about action and comedy here) just because Donald Glover is so involved in creating it, but that didn’t help either. I suppose we’ve got to leave the action rom-coms to the past and try mixing up some other unrelatable genres to create something that’s at least a little bit colorful in comparison to all the dull stuff we’re getting today. While Mr. & Mrs. Smith objectively has the elements to be a good thing, subjectively, I quite disliked it. So, I’d give the show about 2.5 out of 5 stars.