Step aside, Star Wars: Episode - Attack of the Clones — after Men in Black: International, you’re no longer the worst movie (that immediately comes to mind, at least) that contains the lines “I hate sand.”
Like, what were they thinking? What thought could have POSSIBLY gone through the Men in Black: International’s writer’s heads at the time when that line made it into this movie. I am not kidding when I say I would pay money — like, good, hard-earned money — to find out.
Men in Black: International is now the fourth Men in Black movie, if you can believe it, that’s based off the Malibu/Marvel comic (even Disney is like, bruh, we ain’t touching this thing, y’all can just have it).
This time, instead of seeing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the lead roles, we see the Thor: Ragnarok dream team of Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson step in their place. I’d say that passing of the torch was long overdue but, let’s be honest, this franchise really should have just stopped after the first film.
Ever since she was a little girl, Molly Wright (Thompson) has believed in aliens. It all started when she was around six years old and enchanted an extra-terrestrial creature, and it really hasn’t let up since.
Yes, even though everyone around her has told her she’s crazy, Molly is now a 20-something-year-old woman who still believes in and is searching for aliens.
Eventually, that search pays off as Molly finds herself staring at the wrong end of a neuralyzer in the Men in Black’s New York office.
She’s able to talk her way out of getting zapped and, even more remarkably, somehow convinces the department’s head, Agent O (Emma Thompson), to allow her to be trained as an agent.
Remember how Will Smith had to go through all those training and tests in the first Men in Black movie? Yeah, I guess those were just thrown out the window at some point as it really doesn’t take a whole lot to change O’s mind in Men in Black: International.
Molly — now named Agent M — is sent to London to train with Agent H (Hemsworth), who’s an employee who everyone seems to think is a little past his prime. Under the leadership of department leader High T (Liam Neeson), the two are sent on an undercover mission to obtain some kind of secret weapon before an evil race of Green Lantern alien clouds gets their hands on it first.
If it sounds like I’m being vague with that synopsis for the sake of spoilers, I’m not. I’m being vague with that description because that’s literally all there is to this movie. Men in Black: International has absolutely nothing on its mind whatsoever, and it is infuriating.
I guess the one person involved with Men in Black: International that I’m going to give credit to is the casting director because they’re the only ones who really showed up to do their job. I mean, putting Hemsworth and Thompson in another movie where they have to save the universe is kind of a dynamite idea. Had this thing been firing on all cylinders, it really could have been a lot of fun.
Problem is, this thing is firing on no cylinders at all. None. No cylinders to be found here.
I’ve already touched on this thing’s lack of story once already, but let’s do it again just for the fun of it, shall we? Because, really, what is this movie about? That’s a genuine question because I don’t know.
Actually, here’s the answer: Two people who tell jokes get together and are sent across the world to talk and fight with aliens. That’s all it’s got. There are no character arcs worth mentioning, no emotional attachment, no stakes, no set-up or pay-off, no nothing. It’s like an even worse version of Dark Phoenix where we’re literally just moving from set-piece to set-piece without using them to tell any kind of story — they’re just blowing up a bunch of stuff and hoping people don’t stop to ask any questions about why.
They don’t even do the whole world building thing that effectively, either. The thing I’ve always liked about Men in Black — at least the first one because, again, all the sequels have been crap — was this idea that aliens are living right next door to us. Sure, that idea eventually runs into the same problem John Wick did when it feels like 75% of the population is an alien/henchmen, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: neither of those movies are real and it’s okay to disband your disbelief for that kind of thing every once in a while.
Men in Black: International tries to play in that same sandbox by traveling to different countries and whatnot, but it doesn’t know how to authentically do so. What we instead get is a screenplay that just lazily spits up a bunch of creatures every now and then, without any rhyme or reason for doing so.
Then we get to the comedy. Oh god, the comedy.
Men in Black: International wants to make you laugh. It really, really wants to make you laugh. Hemsworth is telling jokes, Thompson is telling jokes, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Ferguson (she really needs to fire her agent), Kayvan Novak — they’re all telling jokes.
None of those jokes are particularly funny (some are borderline offensive, even), and this quickly just winds up feeling like everyone is doing they’re own stand-up special completely independent of one another. That, again, is a failure on the screenplay’s part as these are all really talented actors. Hemsworth and Thompson are two of the most likable people working right now! Nanjiani is a gift from God himself! Novak is hysterical in What We Do in the Shadows, Ferguson can be a complete badass when the role calls for it and Spall has proven he can do good work in something like The Ritual! This is a really good cast! It’s a shame that this movie hates them all so much and has no interest in using their talents!
Throw on one of the most predictable and dumb plot-twists you’ll ever see when it comes to Liam Neeson’s characters, and you get a mess. One big, giant mess that, if recent reports are to believed, are due to Sony’s studio meddling as they were allegedly changing the script and yanking the project away from the director/producers left and right.
I don’t get it. I genuinely don’t understand why they’d go to the trouble of hiring someone like Straight Outta Compton’s F. Gary Gray as the director, only to pull the rug out from under him like this. This needs to stop. Have faith in the filmmakers you hired. Have respect for the audience who’s paying to see the movie. Please.
Watch the trailer for Men in Black: International here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought about the film!
'Men in Black: International' - So forgettable you won't even need a neuralyzer2