Men In Black: International
Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall
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An action comedy with precious little action and bugger all discernible comedy.
The original Men in Black (1997) was that rarest of blockbusters that managed to be entertaining, smart and visually spectacular. The superb comic timing of director Barry Sonnenfeld, the tight script from Ed Solomon and the eye-popping practical special effects from Rick Baker, combined with the on screen chemistry of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, created a deservedly beloved classic. A sequel followed in 2002, Men in Black II, and it was pretty bloody awful and then a third chapter, Men in Black 3, dropped in 2012 that managed to finish the trilogy on a surprisingly satisfying, emotional note. Because we live in the wretched End Times, a mere seven years passed before studios decided the property needed a soft reboot. And, look, to be honest, the idea of a fresh take on the MIB isn’t a bad one, it’s just that Men in Black: International is not the right film for the job. Or, in fact, any job.
Men in Black: International tells the tale of Molly aka Agent M (Tessa Thompson), a whip smart civilian who witnesses the MIB in action as a child and spends her life trying to find the secret organisation and join them. After swiftly accomplishing this goal, she is sent to the London division and paired up with hunky, glib Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and the duo swiftly find themselves on a hunt for a space MacGuffin while also uncovering a mole in the MIB. Oh, and they’ll need to save the world while they’re at it.
In terms of broad strokes this isn’t a terrible set up for an action comedy of this type, however Men in Black: International is saddled with one of the laziest, most threadbare scripts in recent memory. Scenes just sort of happen, without anything clever or interesting to watch, and the entire weight of the film depends utterly on the charisma of the actors. Don’t get us wrong, Tessa Thompson is a wonderful actress and Chris Hemsworth is usually a delight, but when neither are given anything meaty or funny to work with, we’re left watching extremely well-dressed, attractive people just sort of hanging about, improvising poorly in the cinematic equivalent of a bored shrug.
After the stellar, albeit wasted, cast (which includes Liam Neeson and Emma-fucking-Thompson, by the way) bugger off to their second or third international location, with plenty of product placement for booze and cars, it becomes clear what Men in Black: International truly is. This isn’t an actual movie, this is a commercial that’s infiltrated the world of movies, imitating the cadence but never understanding the substance; the soul. It’s a corporate machine that runs off gloss and market research, with not one glint of originality or imagination to liven its slick, empty machinations.
Men in Black: International is a cynical marketing exercise in a nice pair of pressed black trousers. An action comedy with precious little action and bugger all discernible comedy. It’s proof, if you still need it, that the best cast in the world cannot overcome a deficit of inspiration. This isn’t a film, it’s a product, it’s “content” and you deserve better.