The first Men in Black movie starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones has become something of a comedy cult classic. Take Will Smith’s comedy routine and partner him with straight-talking action man Tommy Lee Jones, and you get a hilarious sci-fi movie with exaggerated versions of aliens. Since then, the next two MIB movies haven’t been as successful, critically or commercially. But the appeal, strangely, never left. F. Gary Gray’s MIB: International, stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, in a lazy reboot/continuation of the series.
Is it cliched? Yes. Is it repetitive, using mostly the same worn-out elements that made the first film so popular? Yes. Is it better than the sequels? Probably not. Do I like it? Well, sort of. It’s a fun movie that doesn’t take itself seriously (at all).
Molly Wright (Thompson), who watched her parents get neuralyzed by MiB agents when she was a child, goes on a lifelong journey in search of this mysterious organisation in hopes of joining them. Getting rejected by the FBI and CIA for having these’ delusions’, she’s apparently good enough to enter the top secret MiB base without getting caught. Go figure.
Agent O (Emma Thompson), who we know from MiB 3 as Kay’s love interest, decides to give her a probationary MiB agent status after finding out that she had little to no life in the outside world. She’s sent to the London branch of MiB, where she meets High T (Liam Neeson) and is assigned to assist the top agent of that branch, Agent H (Hemsworth). And that’s where the story picks up.
Long story short, there’s a mole in the London branch and it’s up to our two Marvel heroes to find out who it is, put a stop to them and save the world. The usual MiB odds. But this movie doesn’t really care about having an Oscar worthy script. I mean, who are we kidding? I get that as a critic, you need to analyze each aspect of a movie, from acting to script to editing to cinematography and so on. But do we really need to give a movie like this that much flak? But for the sake of being critical, let’s dive in.
The story and plotline is pretty straightforward, nothing out of the ordinary. The movie is essentially a Men in Black type movie. Yes, there were your slow points, your lazy writing, very little action as compared to the previous films. Compared to the highly successful first one, MiB: International really doesn’t do much good for itself.
It’s been 22 years since Jay and Kay last worked, and their efforts have become the stuff of legend, in the form of a painting in the MiB Headquarters. With three movies already done, we don’t really need to be reintroduced to the MiB world, what with most of us probably rewatching the series when we’re super bored. Thankfully, instead of that, MiB: International tries to build on the functioning of the organisation and how it tries to broker peace between Earth and other aliens.
One of the best parts of the movie, and the part where I expected the movie to succeed in, was the comedic chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. We’ve seen this before in Taika Waititi’s brilliant Thor: Ragnarok, but this time, they’ve got to fill some pretty big shoes. Hemsworth as Agent H and Thompson as Agent M complement each other spectacularly and make an otherwise lackluster film enjoyable. The same buddy cop dynamic they shared as Thor and Valkyrie is still there, despite playing different characters.
The film boasts a high profile supporting cast of Kumail Nanjiani, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson and Emma Thompson, as well as the return of the popular pug Frank, voiced by Tim Blaney. Nanjiani is pretty fun voicing an alien named Pawny. The film can definitely be called an MiB film, but we’re not going there for a critically acclaimed Oscar drama, we just want to eat popcorn and laugh a little.
Hemsworth and Thompson proved to be the saving grace of the movie, giving us plenty of good comedy and giving their characters a lot of heart. So if you’re expecting an Academy Award contender, this ain’t for you, bud. If not, go ahead, enjoy yourself, escape your hectic lives for a couple of hours and have a laugh. Fair warning, this isn’t exactly the most memorable movie you’ve ever seen, so there’s no danger of being neuralyzed. You’ll forget about it in a bit.
By Aditya Sarna