Men In Black: International - Review
Men In Black used to be king of the summer blockbuster. The franchise has seen diminishing returns since its debut in 1997. The first Will Smith-less entry into the franchise, Men In Black: International is finally here and it gave us something familiar, but not enough new and fresh to warrant an argument for.
The talent involved in Men In Black: International is the best thing it has going for it. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson reteam in front of the camera to see if they could tap into that great chemistry they had in Thor: Ragnarok. They kind of did. Hemsworth oozes natural charm, but the script held him back from his true potential. Thompson shines. She is the highlight of the film, and is the reason that a few scenes don't fall completely flat.
Fate Of The Furious director F. Gary Gray does a good job of putting his own spin on things, while still making it feel like an entry into the Men In Black franchise. The action scenes and chase scenes are impeccably shot, so the action moments land more than they would in the hands of somebody else.
The supporting characters are worth mentioning too. Emma Thompson is the only human piece of connectivity to the original trilogy that the film has. Men In Black: International does a good job of recognizing the legacy of the franchise in other ways. But she is the only overlapping character. She works very well opposite the other Thompson. I hope that if there is a sequel that both Thompsons can share more screen time together.
Liam Neeson didn't have anything spectacular to do, but he suited the story just fine. But due to recent comments made by the actor, his appearance left a blemish on the movie, unfortunately.
Kumail Nanjiani was just a voice, but he had some of the best lines in the movie. His addition added heart and levity to exposition-heavy scenes that would have been boring otherwise. It was genius casting to make him a pocket-sized alien, and whatever form the franchise continues in, I hope The Big Sick's Nanjiani is involved.
It isn't anyone's fault really, but Will Smith is so ingrained into this franchise, that it just felt weird without him. His story ended in Men In Black 3, so it was understandable why he wasn't here...kind of. He didn't retired from MIB, so why would something this big not be a mission for Agent J? It doesn't make sense why it would be given to a probationary rookie agent. The door is always open for him to return to the franchise I suppose, but the entire premise feels forced to try and actively shy away from him.
If you have watched any movie ever, then you will be able to predict nearly every single that happens here. It is a textbook, paint-by-number story. Sometimes that is okay. When the focus shifts to strong character journeys or it has something else going for it, a predictable script works. But here, it makes for a lackluster product of a sputtering franchise.
There isn't one solitary thing that is inherently bad, that if you were to remove that, it would escalate the material. In fact, the talent and passion involved is all top notch. But there is somehow this perfect storm that churned out a middle of the road, forgettable adventure. Men In Black: International doesn't expand the franchise. It offers nothing new. It doesn't reinvent the franchise either. It is just there. It exists, and has a few laughs, but that is really all that it has to offer.
I would like to see Thompson and Hemsworth back to try again. But there needs to be a reason. Someone has to crack a story that is worth telling. If that involves Will Smith, great. If it doesn't, great. They shouldn't force that either. But they certainly shouldn't continue down the path they are going down now.
Men In Black: International is currently playing in theaters everywhere.