Men in Black: International - 2019
Director(s): F. Gary Gray
Writer(s): Matt Holloway and Art Marcum (screenplay) / Lowell Cunningham (characters)
Cinematography by: Stuart Dryburgh
Editor(s): Zene Baker, Christian Wagner, and Matt Willard
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, Emma Thompson, and Liam Neeson
Men in Black was lighting in a bottle - a blockbuster that managed to seamlessly meld the buddy cop comedy genre with sci-fi/alien elements, creating an experience that felt wholly original. The world building effortlessly accomplished in the first installment paved the way for two sequels around Jay (Smith) and Kay (Jones/Brolin) - yet they never quite captured the same magic of the original. Now seven years removed, F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious / Straight Outta Compton) is taking his turn to tell a story within the world built by Sonnenfeld and Solomon - taking the story from New York to all over Europe, mainly London.
The story follows Molly Wright (Thompson), as she witnesses two MiB agents neuralyze her parents after they encountered an alien in their home. Twelve years later, we see Molly, after being rejected from the FBI and CIA, finally track down the men in suits that she saw all those years ago. Given a shot by Agent O (Thompson), on a probationary basis, is sent to help their London branch. Molly is pair with Agent H (Hemsworth), as they are dealing with the reemergence of the Hive, an alien race that tried to take over the world, and were stopped by Agent H, and Agent High T (Neeson).
Holloway and Marcum's screenplay throttles the line between in world sequel and full-blown reboot - as it does a condensed version of the fish out of water story from the original, with Thompson being Smith, and the jaded veteran showing her the ropes, Hemsworth being Jones. While they do not capture the magic of the original, no sequel will, they do have a lot of fun with the world of the MiB - the comedy lands more often than not, and the action set pieces, for the most part, are fun and entertaining. The story itself is played out, as you see all the twists and turns coming from a mile away, and the dialogue is a bit generic at times. Leaving you with an overwhelming feeling of, "that was fine," as you walk out of the theater, and almost immediately forgetting 95% of what you just saw.
Quick note: I would've loved to see more Frank the Pug (Winston) in the film, as he is one of my favorite aspects of the world.
F. Gary Gray is great behind the scene, even though the script lets him down, he and his actors try their best. The action sequences are fun, I loved the shootout they have with the Hive outside the club - as they get bigger and crazier guns out of the secret compartments from their car, and the Hive uses their powers to adapt to each new attack. The creature design is once again creative and fun - a staple that has been a constant throughout each installment. Hemsworth and Thompson are fantastic together, building on their chemistry from Thor: Ragnarok - but they leave you wanting more as the script is not as good. Kumail Nanjiani as Pawny, tiny alien devoted to Thompson, has the best lines of the movie and is the more consistent source of comedy.
Men in Black: International is an entirely unnecessary sequel to a franchise that tittered out seven years ago - but that doesn't mean it is a bad film. It is a fine and entertaining film, and that is offensive in this age of "everything is the best" or "everything is the worst" (at least according to the critical reception). If you are a fan of the franchise, you will get something out of it, and if you are a fan of the leads, you will enjoy your time with them on screen. I would say wait for it to hit a streaming service.
Men in Black: International is a Streamer!
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