“Men in Black: International” stars Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Emma Thompson, and Liam Neeson. Released on June 14, 2019, the film has the Men in Black team traveling across the globe to solve a mystery.
The film is directed by F. Gary Gray, who also directed films such as “Friday”, “The Italian Job”, “Straight Outta Compton”, and “The Fate of the Furious”. It serves as a spin-off/sequel to the “Men in Black” film series, which is loosely based on the Malibu/Marvel comics of the same name by Lowell Cunningham. It’s no secret that “Men in Black” is one of the most successful films of the 1990s. From the charismatic chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith to its remarkable special effects, the sci-fi comedy classic has impressed many critics and audiences for many years since its release in 1997. It even spawned two sequels, an animated series, and a bunch of video games. So, it makes sense that Hollywood wanted to reintroduce the franchise to a new generation of fans. Instead of the fourth main installment that reunites Jones and Smith, we now have a new “Men in Black” film that has Thor and Valkyrie saving the world from evil aliens. I guess they had nothing better to do after Thanos killed off half of the entire population. I was pretty curious on how they’re going to handle something like this since they got rid of the main elements that were responsible for the franchise’s success, which is of course Jones and Smith. The other elements are still present in the film based on the marketing, but it appears that it will have to deliver a pretty good reason as to why it should exist in the first place. Sure, they got the likes of Hemsworth and Thompson from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, along with director F. Gary Gray behind the camera, but are they really enough to make this latest installment a hit for MIB fans and newcomers?
Taking place after the events of “Men in Black 3”, “International” centers on two new main characters: Agent H (Hemsworth), a top agent in MIB’s London branch, and Molly Wright (Thompson), a young woman who joins the MIB as Agent M after discovering their hidden base. When Agent M is assigned to the London branch, she partners up with Agent H to track down a shape-shifting alien duo that is seeking a dangerous artifact that could destroy the world. You know, just another ordinary day for the Men in Black. The “Men in Black” films have been known for delivering a unique sense of charm and unusualness while also providing a near-perfect balance between comedy and sci-fi action. “International” is, unsurprisingly, no exception as it successfully maintained the spirit of the original trilogy without being anything different. However, when compared to the first three films (mostly the original and “Men in Black 3”), this spin-off fell short at providing anything beyond that. It had plenty of fun moments that prevented it from getting neuralyzed, but for MIB fans, that’s hardly the case. One of those moments was the chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson. While not as memorable as the chemistry between Jones and Smith, these two actors did a pretty decent job at doing their own thing and attempting to keep the film gliding through its generic character development and underwhelming plot. The humor is one of the main qualities that made the “Men in Black” films what they are: witty, heartfelt, and fun. Here, the humor was basically fun and amusing, but it lacked a strong amount of cleverness that I came to expect from a film that has people in suits battling aliens. The only part in the film that I thought was hilarious was Pawny (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani), a tiny alien who assists Agent H and Agent M. This character really knows how to provide some solid comic relief during certain moments. I also thought the visual effects were quite impressive in terms of the alien designs and the action. They’re not quite as groundbreaking as the original, but I had to give them credit for their sense of creativity.
Overall, “Men in Black: International” offers the usual elements that made the previous installments fun and hilarious, but lacks an overly exciting substance to lure in newcomers. Despite the enjoyable chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson and its laughable humor, the film failed to provide a strong reason as to why it should exist due to its average story and its inability to provide memorable characters. It’s one of those installments that have potential to be as good as the original, but didn't exactly live up to it. I wouldn’t mind watching it again if it’s on television, but as a person who really enjoys the “Men in Black” films, I would say that this is the weakest film in the franchise. Not the worst, just weak.