Movie Review: ‘MIB International’ fails to live up to the original; Griffin’s Score 5/10

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Sony Pictures

“Men in Black International” is directed by F. Gary Gray, written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway and stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth as a new pair of MIB agents for the audience to meet. This is the fourth entry in the MIB series since the first film hit theaters in 1997 with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in the starring roles. Thompson is a rare witness to MIB’s activities as a child and spends her life tracking down the organization. Once she finds what she’s looking for, she earns probationary status as Agent M. She then teams up with Hemsworth’s Agent H in London to help settle another dispute between the Men in Black and extraterrestrial forces.

Thompson and Hemsworth have worked together on screen before, most notably in 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” and they have solid chemistry as a comedic duo. Thompson’s Agent M plays the straight man role while Agent H fills the role of the confident, loose cannon. Their dynamic is somewhat similar to Agents J and K in the first three films, but this time around H is the experienced agent and M is a new recruit. Pretty much all of the positives in this one come from Hemsworth and Thompson’s performances, but they’re not enough to give this film everything it needs.

The Men in Black sequels have never been able to live up the original, and “Men in Black International” is no different. In fact, it may be the weakest installment so far. All of these movies have essentially followed the same plot for the most part: two different alien civilizations are warring over a small object that happens to be with the Men in Black or already on Earth. The recycled plot is what has hurt all of the sequel films, but at least in the second and third movies you had Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, or Josh Brolin portraying Jones, and they are always fun on screen together.

“MIB International” has a familiar plot without the familiar characters and it makes for a dull adventure with new agents that you don’t care about. They make an effort to give Thompson’s character enough backstory to pull for her, but it’s so fast that she’s in the suit seemingly before we know anything about her. Hemsworth’s Agent H gets even less depth. Hemsworth is fun, likeable and is getting a chance to show off his comedic chops in the movie, but his character is very one-note, and I didn’t know anything about him at the end of the film that I didn’t know about him in the first scene. I haven’t touched on the villains up to this point because there really isn’t much to talk about. We get a few different antagonists, and outside of some neat special effects, there is nothing memorable about them, either.

Overall, “Men in Black International” feels like a missed opportunity. There are only a couple of references to past films dropped into this one and it feels like it was meant to be a departure and fresh take on the franchise. Instead we have another by-the-book agent teamed up with a loose cannon as alien civilizations war over a small object on Earth. I’d definitely like to see Hemsworth and Thompson team up in another Men in Black movie; I just want it to be different from this one. I don’t think “MIB International” is offensively bad or even a waste of time, but it is ultimately very forgettable.

Griffin’s Score: 5/10

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Nick Griffin

nick@cullmantribune.com