Movies for Breakfast MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL Review
Men in Black goes International.
The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.
Men in Black International is the fourth movie in the Men in Black series, being the first in the series to not star the likes of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. This time instead the film takes place in the London branch of The Men in Black and stars Chris Hemsworth as Agent H alongside Tessa Thompson as Agent M. Also joining the film are Liam Neeson as High T and Emma Thompson as Agent O. Directed by F Gary Gray and written by the duo Art Macum and Matt Holloway, this film takes the alien hunting secret agents in a different direction while staying pretty close to the same for the previous films.
For the first time in the Men in Black series, areas outside of New York City are explored with a new cast. With that the movie does feel like it is missing something, and it is very apparent that the duo of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones cannot be replaced. Which is a downfall for this movie as they try and reverse the roles in this movie with Tessa Thompson playing Agent M as a more straight forward character who has just been introduced to the Men in Black. She is learning of everything that she believed in being true, and finding out information on the world she thought she knew. She pairs up with Chris Hemsworth being the more wacky and non-serious Agent H who has been with the Men in Black for some time, and is regarded as a hero within the facility and known for working alone. The problem with this switch is while it is different from the previous Men in Black movies, it tries to copy the tone of the first Men in Black while missing the point. In the first Men in Black movie Will Smiths Agent J is brought into this world completely out of nowhere and acts as the introduction to the world with the audience. Reacting to the craziness going on around him, while Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K views all this craziness as just another day showing just how he is used to this absurdity on a daily basis.
Since we already know Men in Black and what they are about from the previous three films that same progression of events wouldn’t work. They still try and copy it here though, which from an entertainment point works as we get to see new areas, new aliens, and new technology being used in creative ways. The characters just don’t react the way they should in these instances, very rarely do we get to see Agent M act excited to finally be in the world she has been thrown in. There are moments where she shows some excitement, but because she plays the more serious role in the film we lose that chance to get to experience this film through her eyes. All the while Agent H is just a trope of a bumbling idiot who Agent M doesn’t understand at all. Agent H doesn’t come off as a professional at all, and while they try and play it off in some scenes, in others he comes off as a complete rookie. The movie tells us how these characters should be acting, but then they act in the complete opposite form, which comes off as jarring in the film. They are truly the biggest negative to this film, and makes it feel a little off throughout the entire film. If a little more time was spent on building these characters or even have them act the way the movie tells us they are supposed to act they wouldn’t feel so out of place in this world. They seemed more like they wanted to subvert expectations than write the characters as they are meant to play out in this world based on the personalities and information we are given.
The plot itself is a little bit of a mixed bag as well. While being very predictable it does throw a couple wrenches in the formula of the previous films. There are a lot of interesting elements introduced such as new weapons, new vehicles, and a little bit more information on how the Men in Black contain their secrets while hiding in plain sight. The plot of someone actually seeking out the Men in Black themselves and actually finding them is also an interesting way to introduce a character to the world. While the other films introduced random people into the world, for the first time someone came looking for that world knowing they existed. The writing is also clever at certain points and even the jokes got a couple laughs out of me at times. Which are hit or miss with some landing perfectly and others landing flat on their face before they have a chance to take off, and even some overstaying their visit from being funny to annoying. One of those jokes being Pawny who is voiced by Kumail Nanjiani who acts as a comedic relief for the film. There are plenty of times where he comes off as annoying, but a couple jokes involving him did get a chuckle. The plot could have benefited by getting another draft, and maybe integrating the importance of these characters a little more, but as it stands its not bad, it is just passable. Even the ending of the film itself comes off as played off with it following the same formula as the previous films but instead of it feeling like an accomplishment or a world saving act, it kind of just happens and passes almost instantly.
With that said though, this movie is very enjoyable, and does bring a lot of the creativity and adventure that the previous films encompassed along with it. There are quite a few new alien species introduced, and every time it brings the same wonder as seeing that aliens are everywhere in the original three films. That magic along with the creative weapons and usage of hiding in plain sight are brought to a whole new level. The scene shown in trailers often where they slowly disassemble a Men in Black vehicle and forming all kinds of weapons is exactly the kind of crazy sci-fi writing that makes the series so memorable, and those scenes all stick out. Even the story and where they are going is even interesting at times. The new aliens that are a threat to the earth actually feel threatening. The battles with them actually have tension and there is fear something could happen to the main cast during those battles and an eagerness to see how they can get out of the situation. Even with the problems with the plot and the characters the world built around it all is enjoyable enough to keep this movie afloat. It is slightly above an average movie, with the characters being the biggest draw down of the film.
There is a good movie hidden somewhere in Men in Black International, and it is better than the second film in the franchise while being close to the third, but still nowhere near as good as the first. The biggest issues with this film are the characters and how they feel out of place in this world, or act in a different way than how we are told they should act. Aside from that though the world, weapons, aliens, battles, and just about everything else in this movie is enjoyable. The plot itself is fairly forgettable, but the villain aliens are written in a way that every scene they are in shines in one way or another. The film does leave plenty to be desired, and while trying as hard as it can to recreate the magic of this world it accomplishes that while falling flat at the same time. If you have enjoyed all the previous entries to Men in Black there is a good movie here for you, but if you haven’t been a fan since the original movie from 1997 then this is an easy movie to pass on. Then for people looking for a good summer sci-fi movie to enjoy with the family, this one hits the mark.