Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are nowhere in sight. That does not mean Men In Black International is entirely bad.
Molly Wright (Tessa Thompson) sees her parents neuralized by MIB as a child and helps an alien escape. Years later, she tries to get hired by any government agency she thinks might lead her to the elusive outfit before preposterously infiltrating.
Recruited as probationary Agent M, she is placed with Agents H (Chris Hemsworth) and High T (Liam Neeson) in London, and soon winds up on a mission to (you know the drill) keep a powerful weapon out of the wrong slimy claws. Making it all the more difficult is a mole in the organization.
Chris & Tessa
This movie’s selling point is the team of Hemsworth and Thompson which is passable — i.e., not nearly as good as in Thor: Ragnarok albeit okay.
Tessa Thompson plays a character less complicated and disaffected than Valkyrie. In fact, Molly leads a charmed life outside not being believed about the existence of aliens. She can hack satellites without getting caught, ace exams for the FBI and CIA (I assume without cheating), and follow MIB agents back to base in a cab (failing to attract suspicion). She’s entertaining but not as interesting as she could be.
Contrast that with Chris Hemsworth who as Agent H is complicated and vulnerable — all without knowing why (you can guess the reason, it’s Men in Black) — leaving room for jokes. The problem is he brought the same elements to Thor and Ghostbusters. On the plus side, if this was a reboot that really reflected the Malibu comic he’d be perfect for J as originally drawn.
In spite of the glut of CGI, there are some things you can write home about. A few new standout interstellar species are added to the mix — one a set of twins whose true form is a pair of human-proportion nebulae. They seem, at first, to serve a force called the Hive, represented by a tentacled final boss at the climax that is one of the best designs put on screen for this franchise since the Roach.
F. Gary Gray and his DP have very nearsighted eyes. Almost every shot is a jarring, awkward close-up. More than that, they don’t get the most out of the frame, causing some really flat and plain visuals at the start. Even when shots are crowded, they don’t feel very active. It doesn’t help that the mise-en-scene is so claustrophobic.
The editing is a mess. Shockingly, it took four people (look it up, see for yourself) and they still didn’t catch everything.
There are a few noticeable jump cuts that aren’t intentional. Agent H springs into action and throws a three headed snake at a thug who in the next shot is already down. You never see him fall. Sometime later, he and M are going to an alien nightclub and his shirt is unbuttoned more from one shot to the next just so she can button it back up.
Out of this world, not exactly — but it isn’t a total clunker either. Will Smith’s absence is perspicuous, though, that said, everyone manages to make the best of things. Predictable cliches are easy to point out…and then the film moves past them to become rather watchable and involving.
Going with the herd and missing it in theaters won’t kill you. Neither will giving it a chance. Catch MIB International on home release, for sure.
- Movie truly is international and makes use of it.
- A strong second half.
- The plot is firm and connects to the pasts of each agent.
- Agent M is a Mary Sue: everything is easy for her.
- Weak setup in the first 30 mins.