By Tim Nasson
Men In Black International is the fourth film in the big screen franchise that all began in 1997 with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the lead roles. For the uninitiated, the Men In Black are in charge of monitoring all aliens who visit or move to Earth, using lethal force when necessary to keep the peace.
This sequel/reboot (take your pick), the first in the franchise since 2012, and the first not directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, takes its title seriously. Beginning and ending in Paris, at the Eiffel Tower, with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and Agent T, better known as High T, (Liam Neeson, who is spot on, as usual), fighting The Hive, the cast manages to flit about the world, including stops in NYC, London, Marrakesh and Naples. This time they are based in London.
Tessa Thompson’s (Westworld) Agent M becomes the first leading female Man In Black and the film devotes its first twenty minutes to setting up her debut.
In Brooklyn circa 1980s, Molly (Agent M), is a preteen girl who witnesses from her bedroom window Men In Black agents erasing (neuralyzing) from her parents minds the memories of aliens. Molly helps one of the aliens, a cuddly creature resembling a stuffed animal, escape from her bedroom window.
Molly can’t get aliens out of her mind and for the next 20 years does everything she can to try to figure out how to become a Man In Black, including hacking into government databases and keeping tabs on potential alien visits to earth, even while at work as customer service rep at “We Care.” Finally, she stumbles upon a crime scene, follows the agents with the help of a cab driver and infiltrates the MIB headquarters in NYC. While the team try to neuralyze her, she is having none of it and lets in on the secret that she has known about aliens since she was a child.
Emma Thompson, as agent O, in one of two walk-on scenes, tells her she is hired, on a probationary basis. As fate would have it, she is teamed up with Agent H (Hemsworth), and the games begin.
Directed by F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, The Italian Job and Friday), the film never stalls, but its screenplay is not one of which awards are won.
While Agent M and Agent H never hook up, the chemistry between the two is palpable. Chris Hemsworth has never looked better on screen. With his most recent appearance on screen as Thor in Avengers: Endgame, as a fat and out of shape drunk, (albeit in a fat suit), seeing him at his best here is a welcome relief. The short hair and black suits don’t hurt. Nor does his ensemble near the end of the film in Naples, where he is outfitted with pale pink linen pants and a form fitting white linen long sleeved shirt.
Of course, the alien characters fit in nicely, including a Jabba The Hut look-a-like, Vungus, which when first uttered by Agent H sounds like Fungus. And Pawny, voiced by Kumail Nanjiani (see photo below), a pocket-sized creature that seems to be loosely based on Dobby the House Elf, from the Harry Potter series. There is even a pair of shoes that have teeth in them, that mumble. And a train platform that resembles platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter films. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but this film really steals a lot from Harry Potter and Star Wars.
What film would be replete without bad guys? Here we have to demonic looking Somali type guys that never utter a word, but who are always on hand to try and end the world.
The biggest problem with the film is the jump in timeline. It apparently begins in the 1960s, jumps to the 1980s, and then present day. However, at the end of the film we hear Agent H say that only 3 years have passed since he and Agent T fought The Hive and saved the world, which we assume was in the 1960s. If you can figure out what is going on timewise, you win the prize.
Will there be a fifth Men In Black? That all depends on how much money this film rakes in at the box office. The first three films each took in about $50 million in their opening weekends. However, based on inflation, $50 million for the third film, released in 2012, isn’t actually a rise at the box office. This film will be lucky to take in $50 million this weekend. Actually, $30 million for its first three days in theaters will be a gift to Columbia Pictures. However, unlike the first three times at bat, in this day and age it is international, pun intended, box office that matters. And this film will make a lot more internationally than it does in the United States. So we’re betting that there will be a fifth film, probably in 2022.
Men In Black International Review.