Giant movie companies, they’re just like us common folk.
Like moviegoers this summer, they also yearn for the glory days of the ’90s. But for them, it’s the longing for the days when all you needed was a big name like Will Smith to guarantee at least $150 million in box office revenue.
Unfortunately for Sony’s “Men In Black” reboot, Will Smith is busy either reprising a classic role from the ’90s or fighting a CGI version of himself from that decade in the upcoming “Gemini Man.” So they’ll have to settle with cast members from the biggest cinematic property, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“Thor: Ragnarock’s” Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson proved they have comedic chemistry, so it seems like they’d be the perfect fit for “Men In Black: International.” But “Thor: Ragnarock” had what this movie doesn’t — a script with jokes and well thought-out characters.
The fourth entry into the intergalactic crime-fighting series, “Men In Black: International” follows Agent M (Dame Emma Thompson), a woman who dedicated her life to being a part of the MIB after seeing them neuralyze her parents after an alien attack in the 1980s. She’s the type who read Stephen Hawking as a child and has a satellite rig set up to track intergalactic activity so she she can run into members of the elusive agency.
After getting access to MIB’s headquarters, M’s instantly approved on a provisional basis to follow Agent H (Hemsworth), a smooth-talking, free-wheeling agent whose ethics are loose enough that he’ll sleep with aliens to get his way. H and MIB UK’s leader, High T (Liam Neeson), are viewed as legends, after they defeated an amorphous, extraterrestrial being known as The Hive at the top of the Eiffel Tower in 2016. But strange happenings in England suggest they may not have taken down those enemies for good.
In the first “MIB” film not directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, F. Gary Gray of “Straight Outta Compton” takes over to basically keep the aesthetics in line with the rest of the franchise.
Like the other sequels, “International” fails to capture the lightning in a bottle that was the 1997 original, a tightly focused, manic sci-fi comedy that was able to blend Will Smith’s comic talents with a fully realized world of aliens (and a great villain with Vincent D’Onofrio). Smith and original co-star Tommy Lee Jones worked well off each other because of how diametrically opposed their perspectives and backgrounds were.
Hemsworth and Thompson’s characters are cut from the same cloth. The only difference is one’s a dope and the other is smart. Once the movie hammers on that dynamic for about five jokes, you’re ready for a more clever comedic angle that never comes. Instead, it falls back on the “MIB 2” trope of inserting a cute character to try and usher in some comedy. In this case, it’s a tiny alien named Pawny, voiced by Kumail Nanjiani, whose quips grow more annoying as the movie continues.
There’s also a laundry list of other “Men In Black” tropes drug out, as if to say, “We’re out of ideas. Remember these jokes?” like celebrities being aliens, the talking pug and the gossiping worm-like aliens.
The “Men In Black” series desperately wants to return to roots that no longer exist. The original’s alien creations by Rick Baker were tactile, gross and oddly likable. Its stars complemented the story, rather than being the sole reason to see it.
The stars of “Men In Black: International” have enough charm to carry the movie over the finish line. But it’s bloated run time and overly loud, CGI-soaked mess of a story renders this as memorable as a neuralyzer blast from one of the Men in Black.
— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live