If The Neuralizer Was A Real Thing. I Would Have Been Neuralyzied Two Week’s In A Row For Having Seen “Dark Phoenix” & “Men In Black: International”. Or Should I Say “Men In Blah…”, Quick Neurolize Me. I Want To Wipe This One Out Of My Memory.
My first question is, what suit executive at Sony actually thought that expanding the “Men In Black” film franchise would work without Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones? I’m sure it was a question they were tossing around the board room after the release of the duo’s last appearance in “Men In Black 3”, which made a solid $600 million worldwide.
In order to move on from the original duo and to keep the franchise rolling in the dough. Film studio Sony, original trilogy director Barry Sonnenfeld and trilogy producer Steven Spielberg have re-teamed to come up with an expansion piece to the series. Now taking it across the globe to London and Marrakesh in “Men In Black: International”. Or should I say “Men In Blah…”, while it being a more modestly budgeted spinoff that tries to expand on the franchise with two new stars. The co-stars of “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Avengers: EndGame” Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, who take over the reins as Agents H and M.
“MIB: International” has none of the ingenuity, charm, cleverness or buoyancy of the 1997 original. The plot is clunky and the whole movie feels dull, very dull. Anyone who sees this “MIB” definitely needs to be neuralyzied before even considering seeing this one on the big screen. Your credit card statement will thank me later. “MIB: International” is nowhere near a strong enough film to pump new life back into the “Men In Black” brand.
Director F. Gary Gray, who’s directed lots of great films, has done much better work like “Friday”, “The Italian Job”, “Straight Out Of Compton”, “Set It Off” and “The Negotiator”. Gary Gray tried to pick up a Franchise before having recently directed “Fate Of The Furious”, the sequel that went on after the death of star Paul Walker. Gray tries to give the franchise some of that classic “MIB” persona, by using original director Barry Sonnenfeld’s preferred widescreen aspect ratio and title font, and even reuses some of the old Danny Elfman tracks from the films score, but Gray never puts his own stamp onto it nor does he have the skill to make a charming and breezy film the way Sonnenfeld did. Watching this, it gives you a new appreciation for what Barry Sonnenfeld had brought to the original movies, not to mention the chemistry and star power of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
Chris Hemsworth is a superstar thanks to his role as Thor, but he’s unfairly had trouble commanding a similar box office draw trying other lead roles away from his Marvel character. Starring in two Ron Howard films “Rush” and “In The Heart Of The Sea”, both exceptional films that failed to find an audience in theaters. Or his role as a hacker in the cyber action thriller “Blackhat” from “Heat” director Michael Mann, which is also a phenomenal film. Don’t expect him to win over any big accolades for “MIB”, except for alienating reviews and wooden performance by Hemsworth, who’s working overtime to be charming and funny, but we’ve seen him do it before and done to much better effect.
“Creed” co-star Tessa Thompson fares much better than Hemsworth, or the entire supporting cast. She steals the show just as Tessa Thompson herself she is beautiful, smart and charming. She has got the much better role as the rookie, with her Agent M more like the Will Smith to Hemsworth’s Tommy Lee Jones. While there are homages to the original, the material is really thin and both Thompson and Hemsworth doesn’t have much of a story arc. The two still have solid chemistry, but not enough to hold the film together.
None of the supporting cast gets much to do, with Emma Thompson the only returning cast member from “MIB 3”, but she’s essentially playing just a cameo. Liam Neeson, is Hemsworth’s mentor at the London headquarters. He gets a tiny bit more screentime, but he’s not used especially well, he feels wasted. “Mission Impossible: Fallout” co-star Rebecca Ferguson, seems to be the only one other than Tessa Thompson having fun as one of the baddies, a four-armed weapons dealer who’s got history with Hemsworth. Kumail Nanjiani makes a big impression in a very “tiny” sized character who does great voice work and takes a liking to Tessa Thompson.
Trying to go bigger, doesn’t always mean better. Compared to the quick, breezy, ninety-minutes of the original while “International” runs a good two hours too long. The plot is convoluted, as Gary Gray tries to make the production design of the original “Men in Black” and throw it on top of an old-school matinee spy thriller. Or something in the spirit of the “Mission Impossible” franchise, just without the great action sequences. For a filmmaker who directed big action sequences and made submarines drift in “Fate Of The Furious”, the action set pieces are dull, really dull. The action fails to excite, and the script is uninspired as unlike the original there are zero good jokes. The original film had funny exposition, good action, breezy, charming and clever. While “International” contains zero of those elements.
The world of “MIB”, has always seemed prime for expansion but when it’s done like this I’d rather they leave alone the brand instead of running it into the ground as they have done here. Only the effortlessly cool Tessa Thompson has enough magic to keep us watching. They should have “MIB” agents standing outside the theater giving everyone the neurolizer, to wipe our minds of one of the years worst films.
GRADE: ★1/2☆☆☆☆ (1.5 out of 5)