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‘Men in Black: International’ (review)

Produced by Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald
Written by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Based on The Men in Black
by Lowell Cunningham
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois,Larry Bourgeois,
Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson

 

The Men in Black are back with new Agents, new Aliens, and it’s time again to save an oblivious Earth from imminent alien destruction.

I was thoroughly looking forward to seeing Men in Black: International.

All signs pointed to what should have been a great time.

Two lead actors who have proven their star power and a talented supporting cast, experienced director, F. Gary Gary, fresh of Fate of the Furious (which I loved), all backed by the power team of Steven Spielberg and Barry Sonnenfeld.

Yet, somehow when the lights came up the only word that came to my mind was mediocre. Not bad, but not great either.

Tessa Thompson checks the box as the tenacious rookie agent Agent M, who is written to always be the smartest, most motivated person in the room. Chris Hemsworth reprises his “funny guy” shitick from Thor: Ragnarok and Ghostbusters, parlaying it into the pretty boy Agent H, the untouchable, hot-shot agent that continues to be lauded as the best agent even though he ham-hands his cases. So much time is devoted to Thompson’s and Hemsworth’s banter and “chemistry” that plot seems like just an excuse to get the two actors in a room together.

Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson as the heads of the New York and London branches of MIB respectively were both brilliant, but under used. Kumail Najiani’s Pawny was easily the funniest character in the film and at the same time Pawny felt thrown into the story just to get the easy laugh with size-themed sight gags and jokes.

The script felt under developed and simple, with plot twists telegraphed in the first 15 mins of the movie. I found it particularly disappointing since writers Matt Halloway and Art Marcum both wrote the original Iron Man movie (the best of the series). The film has its funny moments, but those laughs leave the taste of low hanging fruit.

The editing was distracting and hap-hazard. Shots were held overlong in some places. where as others had smash cuts that were jarring and didn’t make sense.

I left the theater wondering why I was feeling so nonplussed.

Take away the funny aliens, hi-tech gadgets and the other trappings of the Sci-Fi spun spy movie and   really is just a buddy-cop movie.

The heart of the film and what keeps me watching is the dynamic between the shiny rookie and the cynical, veteran agent. K and J had it in spades whether it was Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones or Will Smith and Josh Brolin. The combination of the writing and the actors’ rapport is what made the films so entertaining. Their odd couple chemistry was the gold of the films. I was expecting Men in Black: International to have it after seeing both Hemsworth and Thompson in Thor:Ragnarok.

However, what worked well in Ragnarok fell flat in Men in Black. The undercurrent of implied attraction felt both forced and misplaced. Just because you have an attractive male and female lead doesn’t mean it has to have romantic tones. Men in Black: International lost that buddy feeling that is essential to the franchise. It’s the foundation that the humor is built upon.

I had high hopes for Men in Black: International. Unfortunately, the film did not live up to its predecessors.

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