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MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL gets 4.5/10 Worldwide disappointment


Directed by F. Gary Gray

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani

4.5/10

The Men (and Women) in Black have now had a reboot revamp, ridding the charisma of Will Smith and the deadpan humour of Tommy Lee Jones/ Josh Brolin and introducing a new and far more bland crew of alien-enforcing agents.

The film begins in 2016, then 20 years ago, then back to the present day, showing through one convoluted situation after another how Molly (Tessa Thompson) became Agent M at the Men in Black (it looks a lot easier than you expect, thanks to some terrible security measures). She meets the popular Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and through some more rushed characterisation, they venture across the globe to deal with the usual MiB business: aliens, secrets within secrets, and a weapon with the power of a star.

Who knows how much time was spent on the script after the last Men in Black film in 2013, but it wasn’t long enough. Hemsworth taps into the strengths of himself, not his character (his abs make more than one appearance), but his usual likability shines, making this character just slightly more memorable. Thompson, unfortunately, has just about nothing to do but push ahead the formulaic story. Even though her immense dedication to working in the field of secretive extraterrestrial policing has left her ostracised and without romance in her life, neither her passion nor her alienation is felt.

Most of the supporting characters make a similarly dud impact on this film/franchise: MiB’s leader High T (Liam Neeson) is likewise just keeping the plot moving, and Agent O (Emma Thompson) shows up at the film’s start and end, again used just to push plot-points along. At least there’s Agent H’s nemesis Agent C (Rafe Spall), whose jealousy towards the alpha agent is amusing most of the time.

The humour from the original film has now been muted but isn’t entirely gone. There are some playful laughs to come from Hemsworth and his abs-related gags, as well as the pint-sized henchman Pawnie (Kumail Nanjiani) who tags along with the two agents – goes to show that the smallest characters can have the greatest effect.

The inventive world of aliens secretly co-existing amongst humans is also still present, despite enough terrible security breaches that would likely leave a couple of major cities in need of memory-erasing neuralysers on its citizens – and you may want something similar after seeing such an underwhelming and quarter-cooked entry in this series.

Everything about Men in Black: International reeks of the typical carelessness, laziness, and money-hungry cynicism towards franchise properties, pumping out mediocre content like this just for box office gold. Its director F. Gary Gray is no mere ‘director for hire’, as his previous blockbuster film The Fate of the Furious shows the kind of gleeful attentiveness to both blockbuster spectacle and character relations that he just hasn’t replicated here. This attempt at a Will Smith-less franchise revival may do great business internationally, but fans of the original will likely find this boring, unfunny, and flavourless in comparison to the 1997 film that started it all.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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