Men in Black: International review

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Different letters, different accents – same (solid) MiB formula for fun

What if the “Men in Black” had a United Kingdom branch? If you think this is the most incredible, intriguing and exciting concept that the twenty-two year-old M.I.B. franchise could possibly come up with, then this film is for you. For the rest of us, Men in Black: International is just more of the same, but with European accents.

I loved the original Men in Black movie with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, but time is the ultimate “neuralyzer” and my memory of the M.I.B. sequels has mostly faded from black into that gray area where mediocre films go to die. Men in Black: International will definitely join those movies there – and probably very soon.

This time, instead of Agents Jay and Kay we have seasoned Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and the newbie, Agent M (Tessa Thompson), saving the world from the scum of the universe. And when you find yourself, in the middle of the film, wondering what M.I.B. does for agent names when they run out of letters of the alphabet, well, there’s something lacking in said movie. In this case it’s anything authentically original.

Nothing new is happening here: Mismatched M.I.B. agents intermingle with multiple weird and otherworldly species and produce multiple big weapons to annihilate an alien threat. Sprinkle this all with a bit of comedy and, voila, another Men in Black movie is born.Men in Black: International Review

It’s not that this International version is bad; we’ve simply seen it all before. On the plus side, the best new character is a little alien live-action chessboard-piece called Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani), who swears his allegiance to Agent M. He easily has the best and the funniest scenes in the film.

Hemsworth and Thompson have good chemistry together, which we already knew from 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, and Hemsworth in particular has spot-on comedic timing and delivery – he just needs better material.

In addition to H and M, we also have Agent O (Emma Thompson), reprising her role as the head of the M.I.B. U.S. branch, and Agent High T (Liam Neeson) as H’s former partner and the man in charge the UK branch. Twins Laurent and Larry Bourgeois plus special effects play the villainous alien antagonists.

Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) directs Men in Black: International and the characters are based on the original Lowell Cunningham comic book. The screenplay was written by the same team (Matt Holloway and Art Marcum) who did the original Iron Man (2008) movie.

While it is severely lacking in originality, Men in Black: International does have some fun moments; and little Pawny’s heroics are almost worth the price of admission. If you’ve never seen a Men in Black film before, you are likely to have a pretty good time at this one; otherwise, you’ve mostly seen this before. Grade: 5/10

Photos Copyright © 2019 Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group

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About the author

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Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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