MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL

I’ve always looked at Men in Black as a sort of Ghostbusters, except with aliens. It’s not really about the plot, but about the characters and how they interact with each other, as well as the crazy world around them. Since they only focused on two characters, Men in Black always fell into a more buddy cop style of film, but the point is, it’s all about the characters and who plays them. In 1997, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones created an iconic chemistry that was always fun to watch, even if all of the films weren’t that great. Since it’s a concept that relies entirely on its cast, it’s possibly the one that would be the toughest to reboot. You just have to count on getting the right actors… and screenwriters, and directors, because yes, they count too. 

Men in Black: International follows Molly Wright (Tessa Thompson), a normal citizen who is aware of aliens and the men in black suits, due to an experience as a child. Desperate to find the organization and join the team, she’s able to find them (quite easily, I might add) and become an official agent of the Men in Black (again, quite easily). She’s partnered with the rude and sarcastic Henry (Chris Hemsworth), aka Agent H. Their boss High T (Liam Neeson) discovers there’s a mole in the Men in Black organization and it’s up to Agent M and Agent H to solve the case. 

So, instead of Smith and Jones, we now have Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, reuniting after Thor: Ragnarok. They still have a decent chemistry, but that’s the only thing going for them, as they both couldn’t have looked more bored. Talented actors with natural chemistry can only do so much when literally everything else around them is continuously dragging them down. While the Men in Black series is all about the funny buddy cop antics, they still told stories with plots that made sense and characters that actually grew. Aside from the stars, there is absolutely nothing going for Men in Black: International. It’s by far the worst screenplay I’ve seen for a blockbuster film since Transformers: The Last Knight, which funnily enough, is written by the same people, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. The plot moves so fast, with jarring editing cutting some scenes abruptly short, just making it even more confusing. Aside from saying, “Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson traverse the globe and occasionally encountering aliens,” I wouldn’t be able to tell you what happened in this film at all. The character motivations are just thin enough to get the plot moving, but after that, K and H’s characters go absolutely nowhere. They just go to a location, ask some questions, shoot some aliens, and then repeat that formula for the rest of the film. 

The cast is also failed by director F. Gary Gray, who doesn’t even try to make this feel like a Men in Black movie. Barry Sonnenfeld’s odd stamp of humor and whimsical nature is sorely missed here. Instead, it’s all uninspired action sequences and lame scenes of exposition to just get to the next point. Aside from alien chess piece-like creature Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani), there’s really not a whole lot of “alien” stuff going on here. Just people in black suits neuralyzing people and flying around in high-tech cars. It doesn’t feel like it respects the franchise at all, where it’s just some paycheck for Gray and the screenwriters. At least the effects are decent and have some style, such as the two fire/smog twin guys, who are basically just the Ghost Twins from The Matrix Reloaded. The alien designs are still zany, but again, there’s just not enough of it. It never feels like it’s embodying the spirit of the franchise, while also insulting the audience the entire time along the way. 

There’s no heart, soul, intelligence, or point to be found in Men in Black: International. Literally all it is, is just the desperate plea by Sony Pictures to throw money at yet another rebooted property. In every scene, you can just imagine the executives saying, “Let’s reboot Men in Black. We don’t care who does it. Just hire them, so we can meet a summer 2019 release date.” Like I said, Men in Black was a big hit because of Smith and Jones, who were both huge stars at the time. Not only do Hemsworth and Thompson not have that same pull, but their chemistry and humor isn’t fully there because of the atrocious script and misunderstood direction. Thankfully, this is rightfully flopping and hopefully it puts a fork in Sony’s reboot craze for good. They should have just done that awful Men in Black/21 Jump Street crossover idea, MIB23. That would have at least been entertaining. 

3/10

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