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Men in Black International agents M (Thompson) and H (Hemsworth)
Image: Sony Pictures

‘Men in Black: International’ Review: Mindless Fun

Men in Black: International is a sheer popcorn movie experience, with little substance outside the strength of its cast and its use of brilliantly placed sci-fi visuals. Featuring an abhorrent plot that often meanders in both reaching objectives and having a coherent direction. Yet the movie does contain a good amount of fun — if you’re in the mood for it.

Men in Black International agents M and H riding a hover cycle through a city.
Image: Sony Pictures

 

‘Men in Black: International’ has been critically panned by almost every reviewer out there. It’s projected to be a domestic flop that sets the franchise back several years for Sony — delaying all future MiB related productions for the near future.

Now while I particularly didn’t love this movie, I also didn’t find it as horrible as other reviews have made it out to be. There is an even amount of good and bad about this film that makes it salvageable, if not, entertaining enough as a movie; though it’s more along the lines of mindless popcorn fun — as the film is not meant to be taken all too seriously.

 

What’s Good?

The chemistry between agents H and M is there, as Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson pickup their chemistry from where they left off in Thor: Ragnarok. In this movie, Hemsworth plays H, who is more Thor-like than agent-like and acts often as a successful action hero. Thompson, meanwhile, plays M, an upstart agent with serious skill — who is driven to be one of the best as MiB’s first-ever female recruit who’d tracked the agency itself, down. Just like Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, M is talented, and it shows. Thompson very much stealing the show with her prowess and ability to prove herself not just as an agent but as a woman in a boy’s MiB world. Together, with the aid of their tiny Pawnee friend played hilariously by Kumail Nanjiani, the trio work together to save the galaxy.

The movie is at best seen as a fun action film… though it often feels like it’s going too far. Especially, for a world filled with secret spies that seem less secret keeping and more action driven. As there are quite the large amount of chase scenes and open shootouts for an organization that’s supposed to be kept secret.

Likewise, MiB expands on the craziness of its own universe, bringing back nostalgic favorites while also expanding upon them. You’ll see aliens, strange cultures, and fun languages that seem childlike and silly. There’ll be showdowns and more than your fair share of alien blasters — including one giant gun that serves as the key for the main plot of the story. In MiB international, you get that this is a fictional world of alien science fiction and are reminded quite often.

 

What’s Bad?

The strengths of the movie therein lie the problems of this movie. It just double-downs on all the elements you’ve come to expect and does little to expand the story or genre.

Despite being fascinating to watch, nothing you see on screen is new; in fact, the technology can at times be boring. We’ve seen this all before which is a problem for modern science-fiction, as you need to surprise your audience.

When the first MiB came out there were a lot of original concepts we hadn’t grown accustomed to in theatres. Aliens dressed as people in tiny robotic suits, technology such as neutralizers and little red blast away buttons. These were fresh ideas that were slowly delivered to the audience in ways that wowed, yet also, seemed almost real. As more than anything else, the role of K, played by Tommy Lee Jones, was introducing Will Smith’s J into this world of crazy aliens that was evidently already happening within the world in front of him — he just wasn’t looking in the right places.

This is what made the first movie compelling. Whereas in this movie, both characters are thrown into the chaos… and both are successful at it in their own ways. Yet, what’s lost in the glamour of sci-fi is the subtly. The idea that the world in front is secretly aliens underneath. As in this movie, it’s less about secrets and more about action… In fact, we sort of forget that we’re watching a secret organization movie. It’s more just showing off, with little stakes on the line, save in expository subplots that are often explained and not shown.

Much of this has to do with issues within the film regarding the writing. As there were lots of infighting between director, F. Gary Gray, and producer, Walter F. Parkes. It had gotten so terrible, that at one point, almost every single actor, producer, director, and writer — had altered the originally adult themed script. As EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS MOVIE WAS FOUGHT OVER from line deliveries to even coloring. It was so bad, that two final cut versions of the film were presented to Sony. Unsurprisingly, one was Gray’s version and the other, Parkes.

The result is what you had on screen… what was most likely considered the safest option.

 

The Take:

Overall, I’d put this movie up there with transformers in terms of style. With excellent performances with its cast, and a plot that’s very lacking. However, this isn’t a movie you watch beyond popcorn value.

WATCH: If you’re in the mood for Men in Black, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, space aliens, and blaster shooting.

FINAL SCORE: 6/10

 

You Can Watch ‘Men in Black: International’ in theatres right now

About Christian Angeles

Christian Angeles likes to watch the moving pictures. He also listens to words on the page and writes in ways that make people feel things. All on a laptop. Sometimes from an app on his phone. You can follow him on Facebook or Instagram. Read his literature reviews on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/xnangeles. Or read his articles in NewBrunswickToday: http://newbrunswicktoday.com/author/christian-angeles

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