Men in Black: International movie review: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson-starrer is underwhelming and unoriginal
Men In Black: International is so bad, it’s almost like someone wanted this franchise to be run to the ground.
When I watched the original Men in Black my whole outlook on cinema changed; I had truly never seen something like that before. This was a black comedy with aliens as a metaphor for immigrants and misfits, with a giant cockroach as a villain we know very little about. Plus the charisma of Will Smith and Vincent D’Onofrio and amazing special effects that aided the story instead of adding popcorn blockbuster-ness. I watched the film thrice in the theater, and then innumerable times on the the telly.
Twenty years later we now have a third sequel that waters down everything that made the original great – replacing pitch black comedy with run-of-the-mill machine generated jokes, shifting the VFX focus to make things grand, and a villain who is not just not threatening but also straight out of a video game cut scene. How did things come to this level? It’s almost like someone wanted this franchise to be run to the ground.
The story follows the beats of the original film – Molly (Tessa Thompson) is the new Will Smith who has newly been appointed to the Men in Black and is finding her way through the organisation. She’s teamed up Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) who is someone quite different from her, and their clashing personalities are mined for good moments. Through Molly aka M’s eyes, we are taken through the usual carnival ride of rubbery aliens, weird looking guns, the neutraliser, the flying car etc. If you haven’t already gathered, there’s not a whole lot of newness here, and by treading familiar ground the film fails both as a soft reboot and as a continuation of a series.
Director F Gary Gray doesn’t have the comedic chops of Barry Sonnenfeld, who really excelled in the deadpan humor that made the first film great. Just watch the ‘sugar water’ scene from the original and you’ll marvel at the inventiveness in the comedy. Compare that to the sight gags in this film, where even the actors seem aware of the moments not working. The biggest difference here is that this film depends on the star power of the combination of Hemsworth and Thompson to keep things interesting, whereas the hilarity in the original came from the audience being made to search for normalcy in the weirdness.
Gray also did the sequel to Sonenfeld’s Get Shorty and failed, so it is quite a mystery how he was chosen to take the Men In Black franchise forward.
He even employs the now clichéd gag of celebrities being aliens but this time the satirical bite is utterly missing, and because this is the longest film of the four it really feels like a drag to get to the end credits. Perhaps he was chosen for his action chops since he did Fast and the Furious, but even the action is lackluster seeing as nothing of genuine consequence happens. There was talk about 21 Jump Street crossing over to MIB, and given the underwhelming nature of this film that crazy idea sure seems like a missed opportunity at this point.
If there’s anything Men In Black: International achieves, it’s becoming the best example of how a dead franchise should stay dead instead of trying to resurrect it with the worst possible scientists in charge.
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