‘Men in Black International’ | Film Review: The Weakest MIB Adventure Yet

The black shades, the black suit, cool weapons, and protecting the universe from all kinds of scums is what the Men in Black is known for. The summertime is always the right time to release anything related to the popular series of movies that started 22 years ago. With Men in Black International, the fourth installment and spin-off of Sony’s sci-fi comedy franchise, will easily want you to have a neuralyzer of your own to forget the two hours of nothingness.

What’s the Story: The Men in Black has been protecting the Earth from alien creatures all over the world. Agent M (Tessa Thompson) has always wanted to join them ever since she discovered them when she was a child. Now that she found the secret headquarters, she is relocated to the London branch of the MIB and teams up with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) to hopes to save the world when a mole in hidden somewhere in the organization.

Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in Men in Black: International (2019)

What are my personal feelings towards the Men in Black franchise? The 1997 original starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones is an instant classic of a sci-fi comedy with its terrific performances, amazing action, and being all out cool (I was a year old when it just came out). 2002’s Men in Black II was a huge disappointment when it doesn’t come close to being funny. And with Men in Black 3, released in 2012, it’s not bad as a lot make it out to be for a third in a series, even with some major flaws attached to it. Maybe it was because Josh Brolin was perfect casting.

The latest installment pushed me to have very low expectations for this because the trailers didn’t indicate it’s going to bring anything new to this universe that we haven’t seen before in the previous three. I didn’t need to see another movie. But to be fair, it was a much better idea to do some kind of continuation of the franchise than Sony doing that horrible crossover with 21 Jump Street. Now finally seeing Men in Black International, there wasn’t any excuse to make this happen since it stinks.

This sequel’s strongest element comes from the dynamic between Hemsworth and Thompson. I was actually excited about them pair up together again after their excellent on-screen chemistry in Thor: Ragnarok, and they still work well here. Hemsworth continues to be a talented comedic actor and Thompsons just proves she still has good screen presence in anything with her. Nothing could ever compare with what Smith and Jones had, but it’s ultimately the saving grace.

Other than that, Men in Black International failed to be somewhat of an entertaining continuation. This franchise has always done a good job at making this expanding universe creative and interesting. None of that is in here when it’s the basic, predictable MiB stuff that we’re used to by now. It also follows the same predictable storyline where our heroes have to protect or find some kind of McGuffin that could destroy the world. I guess the only difference is that there isn’t a good rap song to play over the credits. Writing duo Matt Holloway and Art Marcum (Iron Man, Transformers: The Last Knight) wrote a  script that nobody was able to work with due to being about lazy as it can get.

F. Gary Gray has always been a capable action director in the past, with hits like The Fate of the Furious and Straight Outta Compton. But his direction here, I can’t pinpoint a single moment where it was anything exciting where it couldn’t replicate what original trilogy director Barry Sonnenfeld did. The best word to perfectly describes the entire movie is dull, which shouldn’t be an adjective to associate with most of Gray’s filmography, but it really is. That was never the case with the previous three, even Men in Black II, but if the attempt was to try being fun, then it lacked immensely.

Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in Men in Black: International (2019)

All of the action sequences had zero stakes when they didn’t even have the same thrills from the others. There’s also some pretty bad CGI, and it makes you miss the old days when they combined good visuals and makeup for the different aliens. What makes this lamer is that every humorous moment falls flat and all of the jokes are poorly written. I think one person in my theater laughed consistently. How many times did I chuckle? Only once. Even when you have Kumail Nanjiani voicing an alien named Pawny, that’s wasn’t even enough to be funny. And if anyone thought Griff from Men in Black 3 was annoying, Pawny came close.

When it comes down to the main villains played by Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois as shape-shifting aliens twins that are called “The Hive”, easily the worst to come out of this franchise and plain forgettable. They didn’t pose as some kind of threat anytime there’s a fight going on.

It’s a shame because I really did want to enjoy this and was wishing to be wrong about this being pointless. But it was. Not everybody is a fan when Sony tries to remake or bring back their own properties and ends with either mixed or negative results. Seriously, those who weren’t fans of the Ghostbusters reboot should apologize now that we have a massive letdown of a classic franchise to lay the smack on.

By the end, Men in Black International doesn’t scream fun when it’s a very dull installment. If the trailers made it look like it’s going to be lame, it wasn’t lying. The dynamic between its two leads is solid, but nearly everything else isn’t anything to get excited about when it doesn’t provide anything new or special that we haven’t seen from this universe beforehand. Fans won’t appreciate this most likely, and even casual moviegoers might be bored through the runtime. Looks like we have another summer blockbuster that couldn’t live up to its mixed predecessors.

Just watch the first and third movie to find some amount of fun. Or just listen to the songs “Men in Black” or “Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)” to feel nostalgic.

Grade: C-

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, and Emma Thompson

Director: F. Gary Gray

Writers: Matt Holloway and Art Marcum

Runtime: 115 Minutes

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