Men in Black: International review: A needless addition to this long-running alien franchise

This is surprising considering filmmaker F Gary Gray has previously proved himself with the eighth instalment of the successfully running The Fast and the Furious franchise.

Published: 15th June 2019 10:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th June 2019 07:00 PM   |  A+A-

MIB International

Express News Service

There’s a popular saying that goes, “Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg.” The makers of the Men In Black franchise have chosen to disregard this adage. The films in the franchise have till now been quite fun — like a ride in the shapeshifting MIB car. While the first one was a massive success, the second was considered to be somewhat of a rehash, forcing the makers to try a new concept in Men in Black 3, which yielded positive results. Ironically, the idea of trying something new once again seems to have backfired with Men in Black: International. 

A spin-off to the story of Agents J and K’s journeys, Men in Black: International follows the adventures of the UK branch’s top guy, Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), and new recruit, Agent M (Tessa Thompson). While H is the poster boy of the team headed by High T (Liam Neeson), M, finds her way into the organisation thanks to an encounter with an alien as a child. And much like her discomfort and struggle to fit in at the new place, the film too awkwardly struggles to fit into the franchise. 

This is surprising considering filmmaker F Gary Gray has previously proved himself with the eighth instalment of the successfully running The Fast and the Furious franchise. But this film, much like the character arc of H, remains clueless for most of its runtime and does not seem to take itself seriously. The absurdly funny Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’ stone-faced sober portrayal, which defines the essence of the series, is missing here.

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The core concept of the co-existence of aliens in the same world as ours is not really developed well here, and the new additions too don’t do much. The chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson that Taika Waititi was able to bring out in Thor: Ragnarok, is sorely missing here. And it makes us wonder why the gender change in the lead duo was necessary at the first place. 

The saving grace of Men in Black: International are the quirky touches. Baby Molly reading A Brief History of Time, a Smith and Lee Jones-reference in some artwork, and Hemsworth wielding a humble hammer during a fight... all put a smile on our face. The conversation between Agent O (Emma Thompson) and M about why, despite so many women being part of the organisation, it is still called Men In Black, as well the part where H speaks about love with his ex, the intergalactic arms dealer, Riza (Rebecca Ferguson) are also noteworthy.

The show-stealer though is the pocket-sized alien from a species that is made of chess pieces, who is aptly named Pawny. Voiced by stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani, Pawny’s innocence, his eagerness to help those he serves and his fascination to push red buttons is thoroughly enjoyable.

If only the film had concentrated more on such high points, Men in Black: International could have been as good as its predecessors. But what we are left with, sadly, is an underwhelming excuse for another film in the franchise, that neither brings anything new to the table worth mentioning nor sticks to doing what the older films did best. All it does is make us wish that we could be hit with a shot of the neuralizer to wipe off the memory of having ever seen it.

Film: Men in Black: International

Director: F Gary Gray

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Liam Neeson 

Rating: 1.5/5 stars

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