Men in Black: International Movie Review: A substandard, enervating, sequel

Updated: Jun 18, 2019, 10:13 IST | Johnson Thomas | Mumbai

This revival of a near-extinct Men in Black franchise might have been better off left alone. At the very least our memories of the original would not have been sullied so!

Men in Black: International
Men in Black: International

Men in Black: International
U/A: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Cast: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, Kumail Nanjiani (voice)
Director: F Gary Gray

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones kept their charm fires raging all through the MIB series - even though subsequent sequels (to the radically funny opener) lost much of their appeal along the way. MIB International, the fourth in the series, coming as it does after a long hiatus and some serious juggling around with cast, loses its way in the vacuous nonsensical skulduggery it exhibits as part of its populist offensive.

The fans might want to believe that the Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the Baddies of the Universe but this new fluff of lather top-lining Liam Neeson, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson fails to make it stick. Frankly, it’s the terrible writing here by Matt Holloway and Art Marcum (based on Magic Book characters by Lowell Cunningham), that make the implausible seem even more confounding. Agents Jay (Will Smith) and Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) are no longer around. High T (Liam Neeson) and Agent O ( Emma Thompson), take on the roles of seniors mentoring the newbies. The opening scene has High T and Agent H in the middle of a daring mission on the Eiffel Tower. The story then jumps to Brooklyn 20 years prior, where a young Molly (Mandeiya Flory) encounters her first alien. And then we see the adult Molly trying to become one of the Men in Black.

In this movie playing the gender equality card, Agent H(Chris Hemsworth) and Agent M (Tessa Thompson) aim to ferret out a mole in the ‘Black’ organisation. But they go about it in such outlandish fashion that it becomes tedious and exacerbating. It’s clear that the makers were trying way too hard to appeal to a younger demographic. So, high-tech smarts, an unthinkable array of gizmos, pet aliens, instantly convertible lethal weaponry, modes of transportation that stupefy etc. abound. We don’t expect it to make sense but the least the movie could have done was to expand on the sense of fun that made the first salvo so exciting.

Watch the trailer of Men in Black: International

The writing here is so miserly that it becomes hard to find anything funny enough to laugh at. None of the thrill elements work and the terribly oft-kilter attempts at goofy comedy are quite alienating. Even the accomplished stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani (as the voice of tiny alien Pawny), has a hard time trying to land his punch lines in order to procure laughs. Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson do the suave and sexy but even their act feels terribly put-on. The over-the-top CGI and FX generated imagery doesn’t even have the requisite grounding to generate an adrenaline rush. And the dialogues are so boring and out-of-sync that it starts grating on your nerves. Frustratingly, even the reorganisation of MIB into a more women friendly entity seems half-hearted. This revival of a near extinct franchise might have been better off left alone. At the very least our memories of the original would not have been sullied so!

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