There are some seriously heavy duty names attached to Men in Black: International: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson and Kumail Nanjiani. It’s been directed by F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious) and executive produced by king of sci-fi Steven Spielberg.
Naturally then, expectations were high and mighty. It also yet another reboot, remake or spin-off that Hollywood seems to be so fond of these days.
So it’s disappointing really, that the film firmly sticks to a tried and tested plan. Smart visual effects, saving the world from destruction, a few sassy lines between the protagonists, a predictable twist, and of course, a wisecracking sidekick. At the crux of the film is a weapon of such power, it could destroy planets. The Men in Black (MIB) must protect it from the Hive, an evil alien race. M (Tessa) is a rookie over-eager MIB agent perfectly complementing H (Hemsworth), a cynical and talented senior agent who is cocky and equally reckless. Sounds familiar? Only every other film seems to work this trope into its story. If there was a subversive manoeuvre in having a woman be part of well, Men in Black, Gray’s intention never comes forth. What does come forward, are a couple of subtle jokes about gender equality that perhaps sounded better on paper instead of on screen.
Men in Black: International
- Director: F. Gary Gray
- Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson and Kumail Nanjiani
- Storyline: M, a rookie agent joins H to protect a powerful weapon from getting into the wrong hands
It’s almost as if International is afraid of failing. Gray has entirely refused to colour out of the lines in the slightest. Eschewing the original franchise’s ruthless and smarmy humour, the spin-off is uptight with most of its jokes. So much so it affects H and M’s chemistry. Their relationship becomes less about learning to work with each other and more about the sincerity of their intentions. It’s a shame because the duo was hilarious in their earlier pairing in Thor: Ragnarok (2017).
Art Marcum and Matt Holloway’s screenplay isn’t strong enough to keep viewers hooked, with an all-too-familiar premise. The predictability factor, thankfully, isn’t repulsive enough to vacate seats. Especially when Pawny, a pint-sized green alien voiced by Nanjiani makes an appearance. In spite of knowing fully well, his is a clever distraction tactic nothing to do with the film’s real storyline, Pawny’s ugly-cute mug and cheeky lines are a real thrill. In the end, International is a mildly fun ride with satisfying special effects and an adequate number of chuckles.