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Donald and Maya's Killer Chemistry in Amazon Prime's Mr. and Mrs. Smith

To be honest I had little to no marketing sent my way about this series so I watched this reboot nearly unbiased. Although I did have a load of expectations after Brangelina's movie hit the bull's eye with their performances.

But Amazon Prime's Mr. and Mrs. Smith is not just style, it's raw and has a lot of substance, several awkward moments scripted and executed beautifully, and action that keeps you guessing.

Amazon Prime's Mr. and Mrs. Smith Series Poster

The Plot of Amazon Prime's Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Two people with rare skill sets come together to work for a covert agency to start their lives afresh. The covert agency that is never named is into less than legal operations that involve bombs, bullets, high-stakes target extraction, and protection.

The Cast

Donald Glover looks significantly older, however, my only reference is the latest episode of Community and his cameo in Spiderman: Homecoming. I probably need to watch Solo sometime where Donald plays Lando Calrissian.

You find that Donald Glover is an amazing dramatic actor with such a versatile range, but probably could work on his action chops. Every once in a while, it feels like he's more of the eye candy than Maya Erskine, maybe it's the shirtless scenes, or maybe he is an artist who dances, I don't know.

In some of the shootout scenes, I had flashbacks of him doing serious paintball fights in Community by Dan Harmon.

Maya Erskine - the first thing I thought of when I saw this name was Dr. Abraham Erskine. The person in the MCU who recreated the super soldier serum for Captain America. That cosmetic similarity apart, I think she has nothing in common with Dr. Erskine.

She plays an emotionally restricted sociopath to perfection letting her micro-expressions do all the work (take notes, Alaqua Cox). She looks amazing in this series and pulls off every classy outfit and dress with ease. She does action fairly well, even a bit better than Donald Glover.

You can see her experience every emotion in the situation she's in, but let others know next to nothing about what she's thinking or feeling. She walks this acting tightrope with panache and with none of the effort showing.

Paul Dano in Amazon Prime's Mr. and Mrs. Smith

When exactly did Paul Dano become cool? was it right after he played the Riddler in Batman? (Nolan Rocks). So he does a great job of a non-descript neighbor of the titular Smiths. He does a lot with the limited screen time he is given.

John Turturro and Ron Pearlman deliver excellent performances as wealthy targets or assignments for the Smiths keeping things really interesting. Michaela Coel delivers a nuanced performance that is simply amazing and also forms a major plot point in the series. I remember her from her considerable screen presence in Wakanda Forever.

The Cinematography

The cinematography is really beautiful with the darker color tones used to highlight the seriousness of the line of work Mr. and Mrs. Smith get into. The element of suspense is really good here with the audience not being able to expect what comes next.

Donald and Maya in a lift as the Smiths

If you ask me - they really should not have offered previews of the next episodes - that kills the suspense significantly. I mean what do they (the creators) think? after one great episode, the memory of the audience will reset as in Memento, or will change like in Severance?

Episodes 1 - 3

This repeats in every episode - there's dead silence and chill vibes, and suddenly it's pure chaos. The sexual tension between Donald and Maya is palpable and adds to the series, making it more engaging. Of course, they spring the action on you at a moment's notice.

Donald Glover and Maya Erskine kissing in Mr. and Mrs. Smith

The visual effects - be they CGI or practical are done well - they have a clean feel.

I like how Amazon Prime's Mr. and Mrs. Smith are shown to come together as a team/duo/couple organically and are not rushed in any way. Each of them is shown taking their time to trust each other, or just enough to work effectively as a team under cover.

This is where the heavy silences come in and are handled well. Usually, when it comes to such silences it just comes off as dead air or awkward pauses in the screenplay.

It reminds me of the sequence in a trailer where if the movie is a fast-paced horror or action movie it begins with a slow crawl of audio and then explodes to a crescendo. The converse is also true.

Something happens between the Smiths in episode 3 that pays off in Episode 4. When it happens it's like "Wasn't that a..." and in Episode 4 they confirm that yes, it was a...

Episode 4

Another favorite sequence is in Episode 4 of Amazon Prime's Mr. and Mrs. Smith where Donald and Maya have dinner with another couple just like them. The scene shows how awkward it can get at group/communal dinners. Donald and Maya are shown being their true selves, vulnerable, and having a free-flowing conversation.

Parker Posey and Wagner Moura and the other Smiths

It is really hard to film this kind of scene where the crux of the setting is to showcase newly hired killers trying their best to socialize like normal people with other possible killers.

Maybe it is because you as the audience are expecting something horrible to always happen in the next scene. That might help make things seem normal in comparison, but it still does not explain how grounded the mundane real-talk scenes are with Donald and Maya.

It's the real talk, with Donald and Maya as a couple that really gets me. It's so raw, true, and organic. It's very hard to mimic organic conversation on screen and this is at the core of this series - I Love it!

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Episode 5

Donald's action sequences leave something to be desired - it feels like when he has to really get moving like breaking down a door - it looks like play-acting more than acting. You have to get to Episode 5 to even spot such a deficiency in Donald Glover's acting, but it's there.

Ron Pearlman pulls off a great cameo with arguably the best joke of the series told by him. It is amazing how versatile Pearlman is as an actor - after roles in Blade, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim he just keeps going. Good for you, Ron!

Episode 6

Sarah Paulson as the therapist? - Yes Please! The Therapist scene as compared to the one in the movie is handled very well, interspersing calm scenes of talking with crazy hands-on running on the roof action.

The reason why this is so uniquely styled is both Donald and Maya are not smooth and suave operators, but real people with clunky awkward moments. The real villain in this series according to me is the money-grabbing, credit-hoggin therapist lol.

Donald and Maya laughing in couples counselling

Sarah Paulson highlights how therapists themselves might be overly neurotic and psychotic - repeating whatever the patient says and using lofty terms they themselves don't understand. I once had a friend who saw a therapist online where she spent the whole session trying to use Pavlovian operant conditioning to ensure my friend behaved exactly as she wanted to.

There is an awesome recreation of the Brad Pitt scene where he gets "Lucky." But this is reimagined with Donald Glover and a lot more fun and in the end funnier as well.

Donald Glover after escaping a threat

Donald Glover really shines at dramatic acting and is a special bonus in this series. Maya does a great job of portraying the emotionally inarticulate yet deeply caring individual trying to trust people and let them into her life.

Episode 7

Coming to keeping it real - there is a particularly dark scene where Maya breaks down and you can see the snot meniscus in her nostril just before it drips. After this of course there's utter chaos on various levels, letting the audience catch up to things on various levels. This series excels at controlled chaos with humor at just the right intervals.

Donald and Maya getting rid of a body

There are a lot of jokes that sometimes go past you at high speeds like a long-range bullet that whizzes past you. Donald Glover makes a joke about a Kosher gas station asking if the Beef jerky is blessed. While it's not funny on its own, the context, tension, and amount of errors in that attempted joke kinda made it funnier.

By the end of the seventh episode, you begin to draw clear parallels between corporate culture and the spy company hiring the Smiths. The company that hires you is focused on the bottom line - it's their first priority.

The company will put some effort into seeing that hires/employees get along with each other. By the time it comes to the individual employee's well-being, work-life balance, and being fulfilled at work, things start to get fuzzy.

Then again, there are exceptions to this pattern. Also getting fired doesn't equal getting shot - so that's a plus.

Episode 8

The showdown between the happily married couple. The spy company begins by sowing seeds of mistrust long before the final episode. Hence when it comes to reaping the fruits of deceit, it becomes easier than the touch of a button.

Maya Erskine as Jane Smith in Mr. and Mrs. Smith

More fun chaos that takes off without much warning. Of course, there is a reference to when Brad Pitt asks what Angelina Jolie thought of him the first time he saw her.

Are you alive, Babe? - A classic line from the movie is delivered with equal intensity in the series as well.

Should You Watch it? Yes!

Chances are, once you watch the first episode you are bound to either binger the rest of the episodes or see it asap. This is a great action comedy with a lot of substance and heart. It also stays true to the movie and does justice to Brangelina's version, while keeping it real.

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