Seven years after their last adventure, the Men in Black (MiB) are once again saving the world from an extraterrestrial threat in the globetrotting reboot Men in Black: International. While this installment features new faces and gadgets, the plot conventions are sadly the same.
After witnessing her parents being neuralyzed by the Men in Black at a young age, Molly (Tessa Thompson) has made it her mission to find the government organization that does not officially exist. Despite qualifying for the C.I.A. and F.B.I., she bides her time in a tech repair call centre monitoring tabloids and satellites for alien activity. Finally catching a break, Molly infiltrates MiB’s New York headquarters and convinces the head of the branch, Agent O (Emma Thompson), that her intelligence and lack of personal attachments makes her the perfect recruit.
Seeing potential in Molly, who must now go by the company name Agent M, Agent O decides to send her to the London branch to study under branch head High T (Liam Neeson). It is in London where she meets the reckless Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), who famously defeated the fearsome entity known as The Hive. Cruising off his laurels, much to the vexation of Agent C (Rafe Spall), and indulging in various vices, Agent H is a shell of the man he once was.
Paring up for a routine mission, where they must entertain alien ambassador Vungus (Kayvan Novak), Agent M and Agent H soon find themselves on the run when twin aliens (Laurent and Larry Bourgeois) begin causing havoc. With the ability to turn matter into liquid metal, the twins come searching for a weapon they believe is in Vungus’ possession. Believing that there is a mole within the London branch, Agent M and Agent H race to uncover a plot that could threaten the Earth.
Taking over the directorial duties from Barry Sonnenfeld, F. Gary Gray’s film had the potential to take the Men in Black franchise in exciting new directions. Unfortunately, instead of learning from the mistakes of the past, Men in Black: International simply repeats them. The most egregious of which being that, much like a Marvel movie, the series spends so much time with the heroes that it fails to give any of the aliens’ dimension.
The aliens are either comic relief (Kumail Nanjiani’s scene-stealer Pawny) or villains who are devoid of personality (Rebecca Ferguson’s Riza). While killer twin aliens might work in the comics, one walks away from Men in Black: International not clear as to why The Hive needed the weapon in the first place when they had already infiltrated one of the most powerful agencies in the solar system. Furthermore, the mole subplot feels straight out of the Mission: Impossible franchise, there is even a scene of Tessa Thompson scaling a rock wall ala Tom Cruise, minus the sense of intrigue.
Couple this with bland jokes and predictable action sequences and there is very little for the talented ensemble to work with. For their part Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth do the best with what they are given, but their chemistry never reaches the heights of their work in Thor: Ragnarok. Thompson is strong as the intelligent and fierce Agent M, but her dialogue tries too hard to emphasize the female empowerment that is clearly on display. Hemsworth’s character construction is sloppy and comes off as a goofy James Bond knock off rather than a distinct individual.
Though more engaging than the previous two sequels, Men in Black: International is akin to looking into a neuralyzer as its blandness makes the film utterly forgettable.