Movie Review by Daniel DeRey
Men in Black: International is the fourth film in the Men in Black series, the first not to be directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and the first one to not star Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. The film is directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, Straight Outta Compton) and is written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway.
The film centers around a woman named Molly (Tessa Thompson) who infiltrates the Men in Black and insists on being recruited. She is recruited as a probationary agent in MIB’s United Kingdom branch and is partnered up with seasoned veteran Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), and together the unlikely duo must work together to save the world and uncover the truth beyond an alien conspiracy.
Getting straight to the point, Men in Black: International is a very fun movie. The movie has a lot of the laughs and creativity that people have come to expect from this franchise. The dynamic of a young, hot-shot rookie being paired with an old, grumpy veteran has been switched out to a young, head strong plucky rookie paired with a young, hot shot veteran. The dynamic and personalities of the leads help this movie differentiate itself enough from the other films that it feels enough like its own creation.
The chemistry between Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth is just as entertaining and charming as you would expect given their history working together in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tessa Thompson does a good job at getting you to like her character early on, which is good seeing how the script doesn’t take much time to develop her. Chris Hemsworth provides the same cocky swagger that we all know and love and puts it into a bumbling James Bond type of character that is very fun to watch. Other standouts are Kumail Nanjani who voices Pawny, a tiny alien that aligns with Hemsworth and Thompson. His moments are always hilarious and the film shines when his character speaks. Rebecca Ferguson is also quite memorable as a side antagonist who has a history with Chris Hemsworth, playing up both her femme fatal side and her over the top villain side to entertaining success. Also noteworthy is Rafe Spall who plays Chris Hemsworth’s pencil pushing rival, who has a surprisingly satisfying character arc that works because of Spall’s honest and subtle performance. Cinematic greats Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson are also enjoyable to watch given their brief screen time but they do a fantastic job as always.
In my opinion, the first act of this film was a bit shaky. As I said before the film does not allow a lot of time to get attached to Molly before throwing her into Men in Black, and completely ignoring her training. The humor in the first act was also lacking as I, along with the rest of the theater, was mostly silent in that first half hour. The second act is where the movie picks up, where humorous side characters are introduced, interesting weapons are tested, and fun plot points are explored. The second act of this movie contains all of the fun that most people want in a Men in Black movie. What’s most disappointing is that the third act of the film and the final climax feel completely rushed. From the moment the second act ends, to the point of the film’s resolution, it feels as if everything goes by at a lightning fast pace when there could have been at least another twenty minutes of film left. If this movie would have allowed time for itself to breathe and allowed for more of the story to be told, I probably would’ve loved this movie a lot more. Another one of the biggest bummers of the film is its predictability, many audience members are going to be able to guess the ending very quickly. A movie like this could have used some more plot twists that were not as obvious or standard to other films.
There were certain side characters that appeared in the second act that could have been used to great effect if they were expanded on. Other characters like a pair of antagonistic alien twins, who could have been made super entertaining, are reduced to more of the same super powered, silent shape shifting aliens we’ve seen in several blockbusters this year. The movie could not seem to make up its mind on the motivations or mental state of its main antagonist, which made for a frustrating final climax when they face off with the main heroes.
All in all, Men in Black: International is a fun theme park ride of a science fiction film. It’s got a good group of entertaining main characters going on an exciting and intriguing adventure. True there are quite a few moments that are either rushed or predictable, but I believe that most audience members will be forgiving of any pacing issues that this film may have. Men in Black: International is not a new leap for the MIB franchise but is an entertaining addition to the series and I’m going to give it a B-.
See ya at the next show,