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Review – Men In Black: International – “Enjoyable but forgettable”

Men In Black. I always like the concept of that shadowy figure who would turn up after a UFO sighting and menacingly tell the witness to back off. Lowell Cunningham used this idea for his Men In Black Malibu/Marvel comics. That was turned into 1997’s Men In Black movie with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Two sequels followed, the last being back in 2012.

Now in 2019, we have Men In Black: International which sees Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson (reunited after Thor: Ragnarok) putting on the black suit and sunglasses.

I enjoyed the first film, the second was dreadful and the third was kind of good with a great performance by Josh Brolin as the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones character. However, none of the films have been must watch ones for me. They are a bit of fun but generally forgettable. Sadly, Men In Black: International follows the same pattern. It’s definitely better than the second film, and I probably enjoyed it more than the third.

This new film is still set in the same universe as the others with Emma Thompson’s character carrying on from the last film. We also have a nice nod to Agent’s J and K so it is one of those reboot films which also works as a sequel.

We follow Tessa Thompson as Molly who witnessed the Men In Black when she was a kid and has since spent all her time trying to find them and join the organisation to learn the secrets of the universe. Obviously, she does so in record time and we zoom through her training – we don’t actually see any of it – and then she, now known as Agent M, is sent to London and is out in the field with Chris Hemsworth’s Agent H who is the top agent in the UK branch. However, while he was on a mission years before with Liam Neeson’s High T (Head of MIB’s UK branch) to battle The Hive something happened and he has not been the same since then. We then learn there is a mole in the organisation and nobody can be trusted. So H and M zoom off around the world to do various things, say funny quips, fight and so on and so forth.

If that all sounds rushed that’s because it is. The film is quite long for an MIB movie at 114 minutes, but we just zip through everything with everyone being smug and cool. I know these are aimed at kids, but there is never any sense of peril during any of the film. Tessa Thompson’s Agent M is the new recruit yet she is super proficient at everything as if she’s been doing this for years. We get a couple of computer screens showing she scores almost full marks in all aspects of the training programme. All well and good, but it would have been better to have a few shots of her actually excelling in the training. Instead, it feels like she just wandered into the MIB organisation and next thing she just knows how to do anything. Show don’t tell is always the best way to go with telling a story in film.

Then there is the central mystery of who is the mole in MIB, but it is pretty obvious from the get-go who it is so when the big reveal confirms this you just end up nodding and waiting for the denouement to happen.

Yet that holds true for all the MIB films. The plots are all pretty much forgettable. Instead, we get the lovely design aesthetic which carries on from the other films. All the cool chrome and blue lights on the weapons and technology, the great looking HQ and, of course, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson looking incredible in the black suits. I also got to see the film in IMAX so it all looked incredible. However, it would have been even better if there had been a few epic shots to use all the potential of an IMAX screen, but instead, the cinematography seemed to be very safe. That safeness also applied to the action seems. There were a few fights a couple of chases and yet all of them were just okay. I wanted to be wowed by it all, but it was all just to get to the next scene.

It is Hemsworth and Thompson who make the film watchable. Their amazing chemistry from Thor: Ragnarok thankfully carries over and they just work so well. Hemsworth, in particular, is just brilliant. He melds comedy and action together brilliantly. The supporting work also does great things. Emma Thompson is only in a few scenes, but she acts the pants off all involved and brings a sense of gravitas to the organisation. The same with Liam Neeson although he is just being Liam Neeson for the most part. Kumail Nanjiani’s turn as the voice of Pawny worked surprisingly well. I had thought the alien, especially the design, would end up being irritating or pointless, but he brought some great humour to the scenes and worked well with part of the team.

On the whole, it was enjoyable but forgettable. There is so much potential in the concept, yet they never seem to make it that work. This new instalment was quite an average film, but I am giving it an extra star because of Hemsworth and Thompson just being so great together and making the best of what they could with the script.

Men In Black: International is in cinemas now. The IMAX release of Men In Black: International was digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience┬« with proprietary IMAX DMR┬« (Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images, coupled with IMAX’s customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

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