‘Men in Black: International’ is very repetitive, mildly entertaining

by Tim English on June 14, 2019

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Swiss Fist]

First of all, I absolutely without a doubt would pay to watch Tessa Thompson read a phone book at this point, which is probably the main reason I was able to get through the somehow pathetically average Men in Black: International with a few solid chuckles and only a few more eye rolls.

Acting as more of a sequel, MiB: International introduces us to Molly (Thompson), who as a child witnessed her parents’ memory being erased by MiB dudes, she herself averting her eyes and thus growing up with a memory of an alien encounter that provides the motivation for her to pursue a career as an Agent of the Men in Black.

After an all too rushed introduction into the world of the MiB (passing over any sort of training with one line of dialogue), she is rebranded Agent M and is teamed up with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) in the London office, which is ran by Liam Neeson. to investigate a possible mole. They’re up against a couple of energy based aliens who are hunting another alien dude in order to stop another alien race called The Hive….or help them, or something? It’s really never quite clear.

The one thing that is perfectly clear the studio is banking on in order for this sequel to work is the chemistry between Thompson and Hemsworth, which was comic fucking gold in Thor: Ragnorok. It works most of the time in MiB: International, but at times it really feels like they’re really reaching to get there. Hemsworth’s Agent H is surprisingly mishandled, as he’s set up to be (of course) “the greatest agent ever” but really for most of the movie is a bit of a baffoon party boy, solely relying on charm and his comic chops to overcome the fact his character is pretty thinly written.

And that really goes into the script, from Matt Holloway and Art Marcum. There are a lot of good ideas at play, but far too often they dip into familiar territory. How many times to we need to hear something about ‘push the red button and something cool will happen’? I mean, it worked in the original, when we along with Agent J, where being introduced to this world where nothing is ever what it appears. That’s really the biggest flaw of the movie, is its over-dependence on old jokes and not enough going forward.

Most of the film finds H and M (I mean….that had to be on purpose right? The store, H&M, which is British…..and this starts in England….I’m really hoping it was not intentional, but, come on…) — anyways, they’re bouncing all over the world, James Bond style, getting into one misadventure after another. It all feels very rushed and not nearly thought out enough, especially as the climax pulls everyone together for some predictable reveals that never feel as satisfying as they should.

There’s some fun to be had. Hemsworth and Thompson still have electric chemistry when the going is good. The effects are amazing at times, especially the alien twins that represent a lion’s share of the danger. And for the most part, director F. Gary Gray does a nice job of keeping the audience guessing as to who the traitor is, even though in the end, it’s probably exactly who you think it is.

But some of the bigger laughs come from a little alien character dubbed Pawny (Kumail Nunjiani), who as the last of his species pledges loyalty to the MiB. The scenes between his character and the leads provide some honest laugh out loud moments. But there just aren’t enough of them, especially on Hemsworth’s part, who, I mean, I dig the dude, but let’s just hope he’s got more going when it comes to his usually solid comic chops, otherwise he’s risking becoming a caricature of himself.

Men in Black: International is a bit of a mess at times, isn’t as funny as it thinks it is, nor is it as fresh as it should be considering there is literally a freaking universe of possibilities. But it does enough well, mainly the casting Hemsworth and Thompson, to warrant another attempt at keeping this universe going. But note to filmmakers, have fun with it, expand your horizons and for god sake, we all know what the red button does. Find some new jokes.

Writer. Ad Man. Jedi. Sometimes people ask for my opinion on movies. Sometimes they agree. Member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Creator and voice of the Reel Hooligans podcast. Find us on iTunes. Board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City and founder of the Terror on the Plains Horror Festival.

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