The Men in Black are back, but not the ones you quite remember…
In a reboot of the sci-fi franchise, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson lead the way in a film that should not have been made – the story of ‘Men in Black: International’ is meant to be about a mole in MiB, but about routine baddies also, but neither are clear enough to define the film.
Replacing former leads, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, Hemsworth and Thompson are obvious opposites (a tiresome formula) as loose-cannon Agent H and rookie Agent M respectively, conveniently paired when the latter enters her probation phase, prior to the earning of the infamous Neuraliser – an item recommended for all screenings of this film.
Hemsworth, currently famed for being Thor, acts in a macho goofy manner, placed somewhere between the daftness in his performances for ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’. There comes a point in ‘Men in Black: International’ where you just want Hemsworth to stop being a dick.
Tessa Thompson, a fabulous actress, fails to prove why her character is so special – in her defence, if the material is not there to work with, then it was always going to be an uphill battle for her character to be convincing.
Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson provide the supporting roles within MiB’s varying hierarchies – Thompson as Agent O, a reprisal of the role from ‘Men in Black 3’, and Neeson as High T, the head of MiB’s UK branch. Agent O is more pretentious than ever, whilst High T shares a hybrid voice of Christian Bale’s Batman and Keanu Reeves’ “Yeah.” at the end of ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’, how bizarre. Completing the main live action cast is Rafe Spall featuring as Agent C, an annoying jobsworth within the UK branch.
When compared to the preceding trilogy of ‘Men in Black’ films… ‘Men in Black: International’ is bad, though there are the odd funny moments, spread across a film with no actual story. Visually, the ‘Men in Black’ films are a good value spectacle with crazy aliens, blue goo and advanced weaponry. Thankfully, ‘Men in Black: International’ does follow suit in this franchise convention – most of the freaky aliens and weaponry look great, truly great. But it is not enough of a spectacle to mask over a poor film in general.
Because the trilogy came to a somewhat surprising, yet satisfying closure, a reboot or mostly-unrelated sequel comes as a surprise. With all-female reboots being a slight trend over the last few years, the new movie in this franchise very well could have been a Women in Black film. A tacky title, yes, but looking at the final product of ‘Men in Black: International’, an all-female reboot with an obvious title would have been worth a shot.
An additional surprise also is the amount of sleaze in the new film. From humans sleeping with tentacle-armed aliens to obese aliens being suggestive in the nightclub, equally at the expense of both male and female characters, sleaze like this in a film so big just comes off as a little outdated, perhaps, depending on your expectancies.
Sadly, ‘Men in Black: International’ is now the worst in the franchise. No damage will be done to any of the lead actors – Hemsworth can carry on being Thor, Tessa Thompson can carry on being Valkyrie and Emma Thompson can enjoy a potential Oscar push with ‘Late Night’. Fortunately, however, this fourth film won’t do any damage to the legacy of the ‘Men in Black’ franchise.
Written by Dominic Hastings
Star Rating – ★★
Question: What’s your ranking of the Men in Black series?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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