Directed by F. Gary Gray
Written by Matt Holloway and Art Marcum
Starring Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson (ugh)
Run time: 1 hour, 54 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
by Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport
“This. This is nonsense.” - High T (Liam Neeson)
Nonsense - an accurate term to describe summer at the movies. For many cinephiles it is the most mundane time to be a cinema goer. It is when Hollywood assaults theaters with all of their precious popcorn flicks and bloated action packed blockbusters that star dudes that use finger guns in conversation. Hey, at least there are some reallllly cool explosions that in three months’ time will be dated (eyeroll). These movies may have short lives, but they do have an important purpose: to provide an F-U-N and mindless time at your favorite movie house. Men in Black: International not only fails to accomplish this mission, but it will regrettably go down as one of the biggest missed opportunities in summer movie history.
I have always been fond of the Men in Black series - yes, even the Thanos one. I have memories of seeing the first one at the drive-in theater near my parents’ house. I purchased the soundtrack and only ever listened to THE SONG. The first movie interested me in life beyond Earth. However, it wasn’t until obsessively watching the X-Files in 2006 that I became truly fascinated with ALIENS. Working at West Coast Video I had access to the entire series. The teachings from Scully and Mulder gave me insight into the REAL Men in Black and ignited my own quest for the truth.
I share my past with you, to bring awareness that I was genuinely excited in first hearing of this Men in Black reboot starring Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). In my mind, I couldn’t think of a more perfect pair to don the black suits and ray bans. Maybe I put a curse on this flick in thinking that this new iteration would top the Will Smith/Tommy Lee jawns. All signs pointed to YES though. Tessa T. and Chris H. had incredible chemistry in Thor: Ragnarok and managed to leave the audience pining for more Thor flicks. An incredible feat when looking at back at the previous Thors. What could possibly go wrong having this dynamic duo fighting aliens? Everything apparently.
There is not one redeemable quality about this film. The script is a mess, the actors appear to have left their personalities at home…simply put - the movie is boring. After the first fifteen minutes I was seriously regretting not purchasing one of the Godzilla drinks that the Regal Cinemas bar was slinging.
Even without the drinks though, I still managed to experience what felt like a hangover. The day after seeing this almost two hour long thing, I seemed to become even more frustrated with it. I could not stop thinking about all the different ways in which this story could have gone down. There are so many plot points swirling around, when essentially the story’s focus should have been, Molly, Agent M (Tessa Thompson).
In the film, Molly has contact with an extraterrestrial at a young age and is not neuarlyzed (essentially meaning have a moment of your memory wiped with this flashy thing) like her parents, she becomes determined to understand who these mysterious Men in Black are. Her entire life becomes consumed by her search for the truth. She turns down positions at the FBI and CIA to instead take a desk job as a tech support technician? (Yep, the film lost me there.)
On the surface, this doesn’t sound all that bad. However, this is not the meat of the story here kids. It should be but, unfortunately, it is only a tiny aspect. The story spends a lot of time with the inept, lazy and bland Agent H, Henry (Chris Hemsworth). The character has the personality of a rock. Agent H, also seems to get a kick out of relentlessly reminding everyone that he saved the world. A particular characteristic that got my under my nerves, since the MIB prides itself on being completely invisible. In previous films, it was known that for an MIB agent saving the world was just another day at the office. Oh, and Agent H has daddy issues.
Speaking of dads - there is Liam Neeson, who plays High T, the agent in charge of the London branch. His inspiration for this role: disappointed father. He spends the majority of the film stomping around informing everyone how upset he is with the state of affairs.
A story filled with fallen jokes and lackluster action sequences, the only thing there was left to cling to was a tiny animated alien character named, Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani) who befriends the Agents, particularly M. Unfortunately, many of the scenes play off disjointedly - almost like someone decided to add this character in after the fact, in an attempt to save a sinking ship.
After the screening let out, I was discussing the movie with my film pals from Cinema 76 and Ryan got me thinking. How much cooler the movie would have been if it was all about Molly fangirling about joining the Men in Black. I wanted to see more about Molly’s path to Men in Black - sifting through the Weekly World News for all the hot tips. Chasing down leads like her idols, Scully and Mulder and not allowing the government to deny knowledge. Instead, when she finds her way to the MIB Headquarters, there is no real excitement or thrill. The movie just goes through the motions of putting on the shades and wheeling in Hemsworth. Going through the motions could also be said for many of attempted and failed feminist quips (i.e. Men and WOmen in black remark from Agent H - who prior to this line, attempted to “pimp” out Agent M while on a mission).
In the end, this story is all about a world-destructing weapon that is given to Molly by an alien prior to his death. I’m not gonna bore you with the details. This movie does not matter, as High T proclaims, it is nonsense. Sadly, similar to the film’s ending - in which the bumbling dude gets the big promotion - I am sure this film will only lead to even greater opportunities for those that managed to take the fun out of summer.