Sunday, June 16, 2019

Men in Black: International - Review

Another day, another belated sequel. And though Men in Black International only comes seven years after the last entry, it makes the disastrous mistake of not including a mainstay that made the original three films work: Will Smith. Without the likable character of Agent J at the forefront, and a severe lack of originality, or any reason to exist for that matter, the summer of mediocre blockbusters continues.

The Men in Black have expanded to cover the globe but so have the villains of the universe. To keep everyone safe, decorated Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and determined rookie M (Tessa Thompson) join forces -- an unlikely pairing that just might work. When aliens that can take the form of any human arrive on Earth, H and M embark on a globe-trotting adventure to save the agency -- and ultimately the world -- from their mischievous plans.

For a film to completely waste the chemistry and charisma of both Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth is an honest miracle. The two leads are obviously still decent in the film, as good as they can be given the material, which only makes the failures of the film stand out more. If the two were even just given a better script, it’s easy to see how they could’ve made the franchise their own.

But they don’t even get an average screenplay. The plot for Men in Black International is about as bland and predictable as it gets, sacrificing anything unique or fun for a focus on hopping around the globe or nonsensical spectacle instead. At no point does it attempt to build any sort of character for either Hemsworth or Thompson, relying entirely on what the filmmakers clearly think is witty dialogue or good comedy.

Even the potential enjoyment of revisiting the world of the franchise completely falls flat. Where the previous films may have relied on practical effects or makeup to work in various alien species, the newest film ditches all of it for an overabundance of CGI. And yes, CGI can be effective, but in this instance, it makes the whole film feel hollow, a lite version of Men in Black that is devoid of anything that was likable about the original films.

Men in Black International certainly struggles in justifying its existence, made worse by the fact that there is some potential there. Hemsworth and Thompson deserve more, and one has to wonder what partnering with their Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi might’ve produced, or any other director with come creative vision. None of this works and it’s just another blockbuster that will come and go, only remembered for being the failed attempt at a Men in Black film without Will Smith.

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