By all rights, it is a good concept. But while style and flare are still present, meaningful characters and humour are thin on the ground.
Molly, after witnessing the MIB and an alien as a child, spent two decades looking for the agency to become one of them. Now she’s made it, she finds herself involved in a world-ending conspiracy.
Sony Pictures second attempt at rebooting a sci-fi action franchise with the potential to create an expanded universe. Men in Black: International is by no means as bad as the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, but it does lack the spark vital to winning over audiences.
The first Men in Black movie was released in 1997 (now I feel old) and subsequently had two sequels of varying quality. But the first film is a great sci-fi action comedy; with incredible chemistry between academy award winner Tommy Lee Jones and star at the height of his career, Will Smith. It had laughs, but it also had a lot of heart with its compelling duo.
The franchise had tied itself up with the third entry in 2012, its cartoon series lasted four seasons but has been forgotten since, and there was even rumours of a Men in Black crossover movie with… 21 Jump Street. Yeah. But with 2019’s International, there was potential to blow the franchise into a far bigger scope; the premise is about an agency defending Earth from aliens, and doing this in total secrecy from the public. The concept has potential.
Our new venture does not include cameos from familiar faces (but it does acknowledge past films’ events as established history) and very much jumps in with both feet, intent on establishing new characters. Disney/Marvel Studios Thor: Ragnarok duo, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson bizarrely return shoulder-to-shoulder as Agents H and M (not sponsored) respectively. The film initially focuses on Agent M, or Molly, as we see her as a young child witnessing the Men in Black and aliens in a frankly shameful oversight of the MIB. She spends the next twenty years trying to become an agent.
This is perhaps the first slip up the film makes. Molly has almost no character development outside of “I want to be an MIB agent”, and the screenplay rushes her into this almost immediately. She admits she has no friends, no relationships, no life to lose; ergo she becomes an agent. What about her parents we saw earlier? Doesn’t matter. Montage!
Instead of raising her up in a dramatic fashion, maybe have her doubt her decision or struggle with the task, we get Chris “funny” Hemsworth to introduce instead. These two characters do not have chemistry, which is baffling as they are extremely similar to their characters, Thor and Valkyrie, from the Marvel films.
Perhaps the most grating element of the film, is the MIB’s apparent lack of stealth. For an agency trained to stick to the shadows and ensure dealings with aliens are done without witnesses, our two characters expose hundreds of bystanders to alien technology regularly…
For the elements you expect, the film isn’t half bad. The effects are decent, maybe needed a few more practical alien effects mixed in. The styling, visuals, sound designs and soundtrack are all reminiscent of the previous films. Lots of cool MIB weaponry. You could watch all of them in order and not be too alienated by the change into this film. Tonally it was solid, it didn’t offend or shoehorn some stupid humour or characters in there, and the lack of cameos and links to the better films was refreshingly unique.
It is a rapid-fire action movie, which isn’t as bad as what it is being currently stated as… but it definitely lacks the chemistry that the previous films had.