Dan's Review: "Men in Black: International" is Nothing New
Jun 14, 2019 06:04PM
By Dan Metcalf
Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth in Men in Black: International - © 2019 Sony/Columbia.
Men in Black: International (Sony/Columbia)
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani (voice), Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Tim Blaney (voice).
Written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, based on "The Men in Black" comic books by Lowell Cunningham.
Directed by F. Gary Gray.
If too much of a good thing is bad, too much of a mediocre thing is even worse. Take the Men in Black franchise that began in 1997, based on the legends and comic books that centered on the hidden force that keeps aliens hidden from society. Barry Sonnenfeld’s movie was a runaway hit, vaulting Will Smith into superstardom and solidifying Tommy Lee Jones’ reputation as a leading man for years to come. But things didn’t solidify for the MIB franchise, with a tepid 2002 sequel and a pointless third installment in 2012. As a confession, I liked the original 1997 version but felt it lacked enough substance to spur a series. The gags worked once, but audiences were over them quickly. Movie studios never miss a chance to try and try again, so here we are, seven years removed from the Will Smith series with Men in Black: International.
The story hinges on the exploits of European MIB operatives “High T” (Liam Neeson) and his partner “H” (Chris Hemsworth) as they thwart an invasion by the evil alien entity called “The Hive.” A few years later, the New York MIB headquarters is infiltrated by Molly (Tessa Thompson), a woman obsessed by the secret police ever since an alien encounter she had as a girl. Rather than have her memory erased, the New York leader “O” (Emma Thomson) allows Molly (now code-named “M”) to join the MIB, and ships her off to London, where she eventually pairs with H. The London MIB team is dealing with a new problem, alien twins (Laurent and Larry Bourgeois) out to grab a superweapon. H and M battle the twins and learn that the London MIB headquarters may have been infiltrated with a traitor in their midst. Their travels lead them to Morocco, where they team up with “Pawny” (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani), a miniature alien whose queen was killed and swears a new allegiance to M. H and M eventually battle Riza (Rebecca Ferguson) an alien arms dealer and H’s former lover. They also discover who the traitor is, setting a major battle on Paris’ Eiffel Tower.
Men in Black: International is proof that the original premise has truly run its course. The jokes, style, themes, gimmicks, and costumes are nothing new and feel entirely recycled. The casting of Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, back together for the third time since Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: End Game also feels like a gimmick, and I’m not feeling the chemistry here. In other words, I believe both actors are capable and talented enough to carry a film on their own, but the “buddying up” for MIB: International seems more like a convenient marketing ploy than deliberate casting.
There are some moments worth seeing in MIB: International, mostly having to do with the pairing of the Thompsons (Emma and Tessa), but they are short-lived and drowned out by the spectacular special effects and fast-paced action. I would have preferred seeing a movie titled “Women in Black” (starring both Thompsons) but it’s an opportunity lost.
You don’t need a “neuralizer” (that flashy thing used by MIB to alter your memories) to forget MIB: International. It’s pretty forgettable on its own.
"Men in Black: International" Trailer