A lifeless reboot that eschews playfulness, a fun story, and character chemistry for a formulaic narrative and heavy handed filmmaking.
IMDB Synopsis: The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.
On paper, Men In Black: International could have been a hit, both critically and at the box office. The combination of well-known IP, the natural chemistry of Thor & Valkyrie, a great supporting cast, and physical comedy should have been popcorn hit. Alas, MIBI doesn’t build upon the world the original trilogy built, develop meaningful side characters (like Tony Shalboub as Jeebs) or utilize the natural chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. Additionally, the plot is rote, the CG is pretty bland, and somehow this movie is 114 minutes long.
Tessa Thompson plays Molly-turned-Agent-M, a woman with a lifelong obsession with aliens and the Men In Black after a childhood encounter. Upon successfully tracking down the MIB agency, she’s recruited by the big boss, Agent O (Emma Thompson) and sent to London. There she meets heralded hero, Agent H (Hemworth), a doesn’t-play-by-the-rules, maverick of an agent. The duo must overcome their differences to save the galaxy and uncover a mole inside MIB. But rather than getting a fun buddy comedy with laser blasters, MIBI serves up predictable set pieces, heavy handed plot foreshadowing, and paint-by-numbers characters (the jealous brown nose coworker is the most egregious example, played by Rafe Spall). The movie could have either been a wildly fun romp across the globe or a sizzling, will-they-wont-they opposite attract story… instead, neither.
There isn’t much to say about a film that is a blatant cash grab with few redeeming qualities. Of course, it’s always great to see Chris Hemworth flexing his comedic chops, but unfortunately the movie bombed at the box office, likely killing any potentially redeeming sequel in the rebooting franchise. Since the heights of the first MIB movie in 1997, the franchise has only fallen further and further into the depths of pop culture and movie irrelevance. And unfortunately, a refresh needs more than just a couple stars and a CG Kumail Nanjiani to revive it. It needs a reason to exist.
Highlights: Kumail Nanjiani is fairly fun as Pawny, Tessa Thompson’s tiny bodyguard.
MVP: Not a lot of MVPs in a move this dull. Rebecca Ferguson certainly has a lot of fun hamming it up as the villainess Riza in the second act. Maybe they will make a spin off series featuring her adventures: The trials and tribulations of a galaxy-trotting, arms dealer / seductress who summers off the coast of Naples.
Should you watch it: No. It’s not even worth watching on a plane, where there’s almost certainly better action fare. 3/10.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Studio: Sony Pictures // Original release date: June 12, 2019