Seven years after the last “Men in Black” film, director F. Gary Gray is essentially restarting the series with two new main actors – but he doesn’t really come out of the woodwork. We reveal more about the film in our review MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL.
Molly (Tessa Thompson) has known about the existence of the Men in Black since early childhood. At some point she finally asked for recruitment herself and was listened to by the resolute Agent O (Emma Thompson). She now only calls herself Agent M and stands alongside the arrogant Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) before her first big assignment: in the British capital London, she is supposed to protect Vungus, a member of an alien royal family. But shortly after his arrival on Earth he falls victim to a fatal attack. Together with the alien Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani), Agents M and H do everything they can to find Vungus’ murderer and bring to safety a dangerous weapon that he gave M shortly before his death. But the closer the three come to solving the mystery, the more dangerous it becomes, because apparently there is a mole among the Men in Black who passes on the secret information directly to the other side…
When the third part of the “Men in Black” series was released in 2012 and didn’t even recoup its production costs in the USA, it took revenue from every country in the world to keep the alien actioner from looking like a flop. The plans for a fourth part were initially shelved – also due to the departure of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones – before a cross-over of these two very different series suddenly occurred in the wake of the almost cult success of “22 Jump Street”. was in the air. But the plans, pushed forward by “Jump Street” lead actor and author Jonah Hill, were finally shelved in the summer of 2016 due to rights problems; and that despite the fact that this position had already been almost filled with “Muppets Most Wanted” director James Bobin. But in Hollywood, of course, you don’t just shelve a potentially still promising franchise. And so director F. Gary Gray allows himself (“Fast & Furious 8”) with “Men in Black: International” now a kind of reboot before (hopefully!!) the next “Jump Street” films appear in a few years. From now on, the focus is no longer on Kay and Jay as in the previous three films, but on Agents H and M. The ingredients for their first joint mission on behalf of the Men in Black are pretty much identical to the previous ones – and that’s not it definitely to be understood positively.
Agent M (Tessa Thompson) is prepared for her upcoming mission by High T (Liam Neeson).
The first of the three previous “Men in Black” films is now an impressive 22 years old. F. Gary Gray is guided by these, especially when creating the world. The unique selling point of a parallel society populated by all sorts of aliens and non-human life forms, which you only notice as a member of the MiB, is retained by the team of authors around Matt Holloway and Art Marcum (who also wrote the scripts for “Iron Man” and “Transformers: The Last”. Knight”), while Gray and his cameraman Stuart Dryburgh (“Ben is Back”) provide appropriate illustrations. The creature design and the aliens and monsters brought to life by CGI look good. A single camera pan over the MiB version of the London Underground or through the Men in Black headquarters reveals a lot of creativity in detail. From slimy to winged to multi-eyed aliens, everything is included; The designers seem to have been allowed to let off steam here. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to every computer effect, because especially when the last half hour is once again heading towards a tried-and-tested battle between good and evil, “Men in Black: International” sells itself as an unimaginative CGI storm with the obligatory laser tunnel (“Ghostbusters” and “Poltergeist” send their regards!) far below value. And of all things, the two antagonists look more like they came from the last “X-Men” film.
Visually, “Men in Black: International” comes quite close to the atmosphere of the previous “MiB” films – with some drawbacks. But what about the two new main characters? After Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith distanced themselves from “Project Part Four” early on, it is now a mixed-gender double on behalf of scene stealer Emma Thompson (“Child welfare”) aka Agent O goes hunting for aliens. Even though the inexperienced but resolute Agent M and the extremely self-confident Agent H are so consistently written in opposites that their interaction would inevitably result in a lot of situational comedy, the two main actors, who are well known to each other from “Thor”, are along for the ride here handbrake applied. Chris Hemsworth’s comedy timing, which is familiar from “Ghostbusters,” only occasionally shines through; For example, when he proudly presents the supposedly much better organization name “Men and Women in Black”, then raises both thumbs up without even realizing how ridiculous he is making the situation. Otherwise, his arrogant Agent H is, above all, exactly that: arrogant – and therefore only moderately likeable. Tessa Thompson has an easier time of it, as she basically just repeats her attitude from “Thor: Day of Decision”, where she was absolutely convincing with exactly this style. Among the supporting actors (which does not include Jerôme Boateng as a cell phone testemonial, who is shown in a single scene!), Liam Neeson is the main actor (“Seven Minutes After Midnight”) and Rafe Spall (“The Big Short”) forward. Unfortunately, the straightforward script is the undoing of their performances, each of which is very ambiguous, which destroys any element of surprise about possible moles within the MiB right from the start.
Agent M and Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) search the desert for answers…
What weakens the dynamics and entertainment value of “Men in Black: International” the most is undoubtedly the script. The previous three franchise films were certainly not the best in innovation. However, every single one of them was good for one and a half to two hours of light-hearted blockbuster entertainment. The downfall of “MiB: International” is that Matt Holloway and Art Marcum would obviously have liked to present a kind of “best of” of what has already been so well received in the previous parts – or let’s be honest: what was received by pretty much everyone Multimillion-dollar popcorn film is well received. So they present chases, shootouts, and have their characters occasionally utter cheeky one-liners before they discover the existence of the mole in the home straight (incidentally, much later than the viewer, who can see the whole thing being resolved at least from the You can easily guess half of the film if you have ever seen any film in which an organization is sabotaged from within). This is painting by numbers without your own impulses. And although it’s clear from time to time, especially in the fast-paced scenes, that the crew must have had a lot of fun in front of the camera, this enthusiasm for the material just doesn’t want to be overlooked. In the end, everything develops too much as you would expect and “Men in Black: International” becomes a prime example of how some film series stand or fall with their main characters.
Conclusion: The ingredients are there, but director F. Gary Gray just recooks them for “Men in Black: International” instead of flavoring them with his own ideas. That doesn’t make the fourth part of the alien action series bad, but it makes it dispensable and forgettable – and that’s actually much worse.
“Men in Black: International” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from June 13th.