Men in Black: International is a long-awaited reboot of the late-1990’s/early-2000’s franchise, this time with Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth (Avengers: Endgame) in the starring roles and F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious) in the director’s chair. The film follows the two agents on an international adventure involving shapeshifting aliens and a mole in the agency.
The biggest problem with this movie is that the story is extremely predictable. In fact, the film feels like a Mission: Impossible movie with a sense of humor, a lot more CGI, and far less memorable action. From the beginning of the movie, you can tell where the film is going to go, and it takes a long time for it to get there. The movie needed to either be twenty minutes shorter or earn its runtime.
It is obvious that this film is an effort to cash in into a franchise which used to be a big money-maker, but it is unlikely that this movie has what it takes to do that. Sony was on the right track by attaching big-name stars with proven chemistry and a director who has achieved mainstream success in the past, but abandoning the spirit of the series isn’t the way to go. Fans of Men in Black want to see a zany sci-fi movie, not an espionage film.
That being said, the movie does show that there is life remaining in the franchise. The new leads of the film, Agents Em and H, are definitely likable, largely due to the chemistry between the actors that portray them. Fans will be pleased to find that the characters aren’t just replicas of the classic Jay and Kay personalities, standing out on their own. It is disappointing that their arcs are minimal in this movie, but it is interesting to think where a potential future installment could take them.
Furthermore, it is nice to get to return into the world of the eponymous intergalactic law enforcement agency. Over the course of the film, we get to encounter plenty of extraterrestrial characters, including two shapeshifters portrayed by French dance duo Les Twins and a four-armed arms dealer played by Rebecca Ferguson. The best part of these movies has always been the creative creatures the writers think up, and this film did not disappoint in that regard
In addition to Thompson and Hemsworth, the main cast is rounded out by a star-studded but sadly underused supporting ensemble. Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson play the heads of the American and London branches of MIB, respectively, and you keep waiting for either of them to become a Rip Torn-like presence. It never happens. Kumail Nanjiani is funny in his voice role, but also isn’t used to his full potential. Eventually, he becomes one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie, but it takes a while to get there.
On a technical level, the film was definitely very impressive. The practical effects and make-up for the movie are truly out-of-this-world, doing a great job of creating some of the aliens. The production design is also very impressive, immersing you in this sci-fi world. Additionally, the score is excellent, with plenty of throwbacks to the classic score by Danny Elfman.
Overall, Men in Black: International was enjoyable, but it does not live up to the original trilogy that is beloved by many. Regardless, it is nice to spend time in this world again and hopefully the film will make enough money overseas to warrant a sequel, as that will give the writers the opportunity to actually have fun.
Men in Black: International opens in theaters on June 14.