Review: Men in Black: International

Men in Black: International is the sort of movie that makes sequels so frustrating. It has two great leads – Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth – action, humor, but it’s mostly more of what we’ve already seen from the MIB franchise…just not as good.

International picks up some time after Men in Black 3. Molly (Tessa Thompson) finds the MIB base in New York and convinces Agent O (Emma Thompson) to recruit her as a new agent. Molly trains to become and agent off-screen (a sequence that could’ve been hilarious) and the story jumps straight to Molly, now Agent M, being sent to London on a probationary period. Once in London, Agent M is paired with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth). During a standard operation, they stumble upon a series of alien attacks by an alien race known as The Hive.

Agent M and Agent H believe MIB has a mole. They travel the globe in an attempt to keep a piece of alien technology away from The Hive and the potential mole. Along the way, they’re joined by a sarcastic alien named Pawny (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani) and run into Riza (Rebecca Ferguson), and old friend of Agent H.

Having the 4th installment of your franchise invoke the spirit of the original is a gift and a curse. The gift: fans are familiar with how the story. The curse: The film reminds you of the first MIB but doesn’t match the fun and uniqueness of the first film. It feels more like a reboot than a sequel. There isn’t enough newness in the sequel to make it feel fresh and new.

Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth are fantastic together. They have a few really good moments. Sadly, the script doesn’t give them enough of those moments to let this amazing pairing reach its full comedic potential. Not capturing the Tessa and Hemsworth magic is one of the many missed opportunities. Choosing to skip Agent M’s training is a missed opportunity. Not showing Agent H as a bumbling James Bond type is a missed opportunity. Spending more time with Riza is a missed opportunity. Not unveiling a new cool MIB gadget is a missed opportunity.  The script left a lot of funny on the floor and the story could’ve used more of it.

The saddest part is the wasted opportunity to show cool aliens. Other than the shape shifting alien twins (played by Laurent and Larry Bourgeois) there aren’t any memorable aliens. The other aliens are uninteresting and unnecessary.

Men in Black: International is a sanitized MIB film. There’s nothing that distinguishes it from any other action comedy that would make it feel uniquely MIB. Tessa and Hemsworth’s chemistry and comedic timing is the only thing that keeps this from being a dull slug through international cities with forgettable creatures. There’s a great buddy cop style alien comedy somewhere in this film. Unfortunately it’s buried under a dull script and forgettable action scenes.

Grade: C

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