Men In Black: International
Jacob Richardson | 12/06/2019
For a movie about a pair of heroes saving the world from marauding aliens, this film is surprisingly unadventurous.
Molly (Tessa Thompson) is an ingenious young woman who discovers MIB headquarters in New York through in-depth research. Agent O (Emma Thompson), the head of the New York branch, sees something in this tenacious youngster, and thus Molly becomes Agent M - sent to London on the suspicions of Agent O to find out just what is going on in the London branch. There she meets the grand-fatherly High T (Liam Neeson), the preening Agent C (Rafe Spall) and the obnoxious, famous and full of himself Agent H (Chris Hemsworth). M partners up with H when a new weapon comes to town, as the duo work to keep it away from dangerous hands even as they investigate a mole in London branch.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, this iteration brings back something the last Will Smith starrer was missing; chemistry. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thomspon are absolutely great together, and their banter (particularly when punctuated with the wit of Kumail Nanjiani as Pawnee, a chess-piece like alien) is frequently chuckle-worthy.
They are let down by a plot about as cookie cutter as you can get. Team up, macguffin, baddie, betrayal, hints of romance; it's all there, laid out exactly like we've seen in a million other movies. That being said, throughout the journey there is some intrigue around the identity of the mole. While anyone who had even a passing glance at a trailer for the film would have one clear suspect in mind for the big bad, the film works hard to try and convince you it will do something unexpected with its reveal. Long story short, it doesn’t. But that doesn’t make this extra work pointless; indeed, for much of the movie you become engrossed by it, only to find on reflection, after the big reveal, that the broad strokes of this story could be regurgitated by any fifth-grader in the world.
MIB: International breaks the MIB mould slightly in that it jumps from place to place frequently. M and H find themselves in London, New York, Naples, Marrakesh, Paris, and more. This world hopping adventure should feel expansive and exciting, truly making good on the international in the title. But when the film is about extra-terrestrials and different worlds, this hopping across Earth brings into focus that we never see them actually travel to any of those worlds (an issue the previous films, with their often single geographic location, didn’t face so much).
Indeed, that is symptomatic of a broader feeling you get from the film; that there just isn’t enough alien. The aliens in this feel placed there for recognition or nostalgia sake, as opposed to being any real impetus on the hero’s journey. One wishes this had of expanded the premise from international to inter-galactic, and made a MIB film that felt truly alien.
Despite doing little with its premise, and even less with its plot, MIB: International is a lot of fun due to the chemistry of its two leads.