Men in Black: International.
Now I remember liking the original Men in Black films but I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say they’re good. I think we often have rose-colored glasses for franchises that meant a lot to us as kids. It’s been a long time now since that trilogy wrapped, so it’s finally back with a soft reboot, revealing a more global perspective of the Men (and women) in Black. We know that Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have chemistry from Thor: Ragnarok but does that necessarily mean they can carry another film? Let’s see.
When she was young, Molly (Tessa Thompson) witnessed an alien encounter and it was never erased from her memory. She’s dedicated her life after that to finding (and joining) the Men in Black, eventually ending up in the office of O (Emma Thompson), who gives her a probationary mission in London. While there, newly minted agent M (formerly Molly) teams up with their hotshot agent H (Chris Hemsworth) to get to the bottom of an alien conspiracy, led by a shapeshifting alien race called the Hive. The London branch is spearheaded by Agent High T (Liam Neeson) and Agent C (Rafe Spall). M and H also partner up with a living chess piece, voiced by Kumail Nanjiani.
The world of Men in Black is still very much alive here, full of interesting alien races and unique ways to portray life. One of my favorites here is an alien arms dealer (played by Rebecca Ferguson) who has a third arm growing from her back. Aaaaand I just realized how clever it is that she’s an arms dealer. Everything looks interesting, including the main villains, a race called the Hive. They can change matter, so they’ll turn solids to liquid and back again, using these powers in really interesting and visually cool ways.
I also appreciated the chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson, as they had a very natural back and forth. Nanjiani was an interesting addition, though it was hit or miss whether his comedic moments really landed.
What didn’t work?
While I chuckled, the comedy didn’t hit as often or as hard as I would’ve wanted. It’s a little rocky, so we often get silent reactions to a joke. Hemsworth is funny most of the time, likewise Kumail Nanjiani’s living chess piece, but they both have plenty of jokes that fall flat. It’s not really consistent.
The biggest eh factor is that this movie doesn’t really do anything new or interesting, other than inhabit an already interesting world. I think it’ll be ultimately forgettable, a mid-tier action comedy that you’ll see on TBS in a few years and think “Oh I forgot about this” and play it in the background as you prepare for dinner. It’s not bad, but it’s fine. It doesn’t try to risk anything or do anything outlandish for it to actually fail. It’s safe, relying on the name brand to get it by.
There’s also a big problem with the villain here, who for 90% of the movie is a pair of mute twins who follow our heroes around the globe. We don’t really understand their motive. Even as the credits roll and we’ve had the big plot laid out for us, it’s still a little messy and unclear why this whole adventure transpired.
You’ll have a fine time here. Big explosions, cool aliens, and a lot of nostalgic throwbacks to the original trilogy. However, that’s it. The plot doesn’t really pay off, the humor is hit or miss, and it ultimately doesn’t feel necessary. With reboots or remakes, you often wonder “Why are they doing this?” and that’s a question that will pop into your head a few times no doubt. That’s not always bad, as you can still have a few laughs and enjoy a few hours in the air conditioning, just don’t expect much more than that.