Let’s get one thing out of the way – The Men in Black movies are almost inseparable from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Since the very first film that was released back in 1997, the charismatic presence of Smith and Jones have been embedded into the decade spanning alien series. Which is why it’s perfectly reasonable if you are a little confused by the release of Men in Black: International. Featuring all-new characters, Men in Black: International is the next installment that serves as spinoff to the original trilogy.
Chris Hemsworth and tessa Thompson dazzle as leads
In this new chapter in the Men in Black franchise, Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and Em (Tessa Thompson) of the London branch tackle their biggest, most global threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization. Having showcased their incredible chemistry back in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, Hemsworth and Thompson teams up once again, playing the top agent and newest rookie in MIB’s London branch respectively. An absolute delight on screen, Hemsworth’s knack for comedy paired with Thompson’s sass makes for an electrifying duo that’s worthy of taking over the baton that’s handed by Smith and Jones.
Men in black: International is bogged down by narrative and structural issues
Despite its incredible leads, Men in Black: International suffers from having an identity crisis. Indecisive of which storyline to focus on, the movie decides to open with two flashback sequences instead. Directed by F. Gary Gary, Men in Black: International’s lack of focus caused the film to be a pacing nightmare, with its central conflict being introduced in about more than half an hour into the film.
Being the fourth film of the franchise, Men in Black: International plays itself safe when it comes to its storytelling choices. On top of its forcefully induced conflict and obvious dependence on nostalgia, the film doesn’t do anything remarkable with its immensely likeable cast. Which is particularly frustrating as there are glimpses of bold storytelling directions that weren’t explored any further beyond passing remarks. Instead of taking the opportunity to reinvent the wheel, Men in Black: International disappoints by returning to familiar ground.
Comedy is the saving grace of the film
In spite of its various narrative and storytelling issues, Men in Black: International manages to salvage itself by relying heavily on comic relief. In addition to Hemsworth’s immense talent as a comedy actor, the film’s comic relief lies heavily on a sidekick character named Pawny, a tiny alien that Agent H and Agent M befriend with. The film’s horrendous pacing and uninspiring story is gracefully neutralised to a certain degree thank to likeable characters as well as its sharp sense of comedy.
All in all, Men in Black: International is a passable movie that prioritizes spectacle and comedy over developing a coherent story and layered characters. While the film aimed to create a new threat for the MIB, it ultimately stumbles by recycling the same formula, which is that mankind can defeat a world threatening alien by tasking agents in cool sunglasses to shoot them into goo. However, with Hemsworth and Thompson at the forefront of the franchise now, it’s exciting to see where the alien-busting series is headed next.