Movie review: Men In Black International
Don’t call it a reboot.
Men In Black International (let’s call it MIBI) is a continuation, built very clearly — and very hopefully — on the chemistry stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth displayed in Thor: Ragnarok.
While they work together just fine (Thompson being the standout) they’re given very little to work with.
Ever since Hemsworth was told he was funny, he’s been ploughing this furrow of wittering improvisation. Usually it’s a hit. Here it reaches the limit of its charm.
It works as Thor, where it pricks his pomposity or there are dramatic beats to contrast against it.
Here, it’s all he has to work with. His Agent H is perfect to the point of dullness. A bland Bond.
So every moment he breaks into improv — and it’s a lot — it feels like an actor treading water for lack of a personality.
The attempts at humour feel tacked on. Too many of the non-punchlines are of the lame “Well that happened” or “That’s not good” variety.
It’s especially annoying when some decent gags are delivered with all the impact of throwing dust at the sky.
Supporting cast of Emma Thompson (back as O from 2012’s Men in Black 3), Liam Neeson (High T) and Kumail Nanjiani each do the most with what they have.
It doesn’t help that there are times this film feels so bereft of its own ideas. The style template was laid out in 1997 and very little has changed — black suits and gleaming chrome devices.
While they may go globetrotting — Marrakesh, Italy, London and Paris serve as backdrops — little is done with them.
Parts feel more like the Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts, rather than Men In Black. We get to see a number of creatures but there’s no interaction. No spark.
Plot wise, the best thing about it is that the guess-the-mole plot does keep you guessing for a while, but the resolution forgets to answer key questions set up earlier.
MIBI — like a number of big films this year — makes you wonder how far past the first draft they got before rolling cameras.
For the second time in his career, F Gary Gray follows Barry Sonnenfeld (Gray directed the Get Shorty sequel, Be Cool) but doesn’t put his own stamp on things. Much like what happens when you join MIB, your persona is erased.
Everything in the Men In Black world is still held against the 1997 original. The Will Smith sequels are forgettable, and this is no different. It’s no more than okay. Uninvolving. Inoffensive. Men In Vanilla. Forgettable to the point that you may well leave the cinema thinking you've been neuralysed.
Watching this makes one wish the once-proposed 21 Jump Street crossover happened instead. At least that would have had some bite. Some much needed irreverence.
One final nitpick, and this goes out to all film-makers: 20 YEARS AGO WAS NOT THE 80s!
The scenes with young Molly and her parents looks like something out of the Cosby Show. The flashback is set in 1996, but Molly’s parents are dressed in peak 1988.