SONY PICTURES RELEASING (2019)
Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson
They won’t let you remember.
The Men in Black are back! Kind of. The fourth installment in the franchise, Men in Black: International is a reboot or spinoff of sorts – there are no references to Will Smith’s Agent J or Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K, instead we have Chris Hemsworth’s Agent H and Tessa Thompson’s rookie Agent M stepping into those hallowed black suits to save the galaxy from appearance-changing aliens hell-bent on the destruction of the MIB and Earth.
1997’s Men in Black was a good fun romp with decent FX for the time, two stars in the lead and some memorable moments to boot (“Give me sugar…in water”) whereas the sequels…weren’t. The foundations for a decent franchise were there but never really built upon all that well. F. Gary Gray thought he could be the man to kickstart the franchise, however, Sony Pictures Releasing thought otherwise and the production of this movie was mired with problems from the start. So, how was the movie then? Mired with problems from the start and simply just bad. First off, International. The reason being? You tell me, maybe it just sounded cool, maybe this reboot wanted to make things bigger and badder (certainly achieved the latter) either way there was no real reason for this sudden explosion of scope. The crux of what made those original MIB movies so accessible – the likable leads, the gags, the aliens, the situations – have been removed here in this hodgepodge mess which manages to waste the ever-so-considerable talents of Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson and Emma Thompson.
Even our new Agents look lost in the chaos going on around them. Chris Hemsworth should be a good fit for this series but ends up being woefully let down by the script (and movie) – including an eye-rolling Thor gag - as does Tessa Thompson who ambles through trying to claw some dignity from this lifeless jumble. Whilst I wasn’t a fan of MIB II or III, at least they retained those franchise conventions that made them feel familiar. International feels like any old team up movie just with Men in Black slapped on it. The script is appalling (Hemsworth and Thompson brought in their own script doctors to ease the pain), the narrative bumpy and flawed in its desire and execution and even the visual FX aren’t entirely excellent. Everything just feels rushed, meddled with or half-arsed and it shows.
Sony had a great chance here to relaunch their franchise with two fresh, young leads and give us another fun series of movies about cool, fun agents teaming up with / fighting exotic and menacing aliens but they’ve really dropped the ball. The behind the scenes arguments and posturing have affected the movie – the blame cannot lay solely at the feet of F. Gary Gray, more towards producer and original MIB stalwart Walter F. Parkes – and it’s a real shame that what we ended up with is this bad. Forget the MIB of old, Men in Black: International is soulless, hollow and depressingly uninteresting.
Hey, does anyone have one of those Neuralyzers handy? Asking for a friend.
That friend is me.
June 16th 2019