Men in Black: International
F. Gary Gray's Men in Black: International represents a series low, failing to ignite the usually-magnetic chemistry between stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, resulting in a film that's very unfunny, often-times falling completely flat on its face during its painfully dull bits of comedy. To make matters worse, the direction feels cheap and unimaginative, while the special effects rely too heavily on CGI. We probably would've been better off with MiB 23.
Straight Outta Compton and The Fate of the Furious director F. Gary Gray steps in for franchise director Barry Sonnenfeld to direct Men in Black: International, a part sequel, part reboot that swaps out Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones for Thor: Ragnarok‘s Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. On paper, MiB: International sounds like a slam-dunk of comedic talent and journeymen directing, yet the result is a complete abomination.
Men in Black: International sucks the comedy and most of the life out of the Men in Black series completely, with joke after joke failing to land, in addition to F. Gary Gray‘s direction coming off as tired and cheap. Nothing about MiB: International looks or feels like a true Men in Black film, with most of the alien design looking like rehashed designs that mostly rely on CGI or jokes to make any sense of the visuals coming together on-screen, while Hemsworth and Thompson’s chemistry struggles to reach buddy-comedy levels to patch the massive holes in the sinking ship of the film known as the plot.
Men in Black: International follows Agent M (Tessa Thompson) as she finds the US branch of the Men in Black and is immediately transferred over to the London branch for probationary training. London branch head Agent High T (Liam Neeson) pairs M up with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), a once bright and promising agent that now mostly takes naps. Together, the two must uncover cosmic mysteries to prevent the end of the Earth (sigh) as a new alien force threatens the entire galaxy.
Men in Black: International stomps out of the gates with copy mode in full-swing. The opening credits and music start the excitement as we are introduced to Hemsworth and Neeson’s characters, only this time the jokes aren’t as funny — or clever, while the action is presented with no real eye for excitement. There’s something about F. Gary Gray‘s direction here that feels forced onto a green screen and lacking any sort of distinct visual characteristics.
Men in Black 1-3 director Barry Sonnenfeld always managed to make his films look and feel exciting, capturing the high-tech world of the MiB, while merging it with the creativity of the alien creature and world designs. Everything felt real and blended, given the special effects limits of the respective films. Men in Black: International looks like a group of college students whipped up the effects over a long weekend of pounding Red Bulls and eating pizza rolls.
And that’s not even the worst part. Films can get by on limited budgets and cheap effects, if they are integrated into the story in a way that blends and does not distract or feel fake. Men in Black: International never manages to achieve this state of being. Everything about the film’s special effects feel fake and phony, making most of the action fail to register.
To make matters worse, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson‘s chemistry from Thor: Ragnarok is absolutely lost. What was once a dynamite team of comedy and bad assery is now substituted for a a bumbling idiot (Hemsworth) that never learns a damn thing and an intelligent young woman (Thompson) that is constantly over-stepping her boundaries, yet landing perfectly on her feet.
I’ve always worried that someone was going to lean too hard into Hemsworth’s “dumb” Thor traits and the result would be a complete failure and Men in Black: International is now that living proof. Thor works not because he’s an idiot, but because he’s an overly-confident brute with a heart of gold that occasionally make moronic mistakes — but hey, he learns! His character in MiB: International has no redeemable traits, which results in him starting the film off as a briefly likable bad ass and then falling completely into loser territory until the very end — nothing is learned or progressed.
Tessa Thompson‘s character is too smart for her own good, which results in nothing but rewards and extended knowledge. She’s far from giving a bad performance, but there’s nothing challenging her throughout the entire film, despite only joining the team for mere minutes before getting thrown into a world-saving event.
Men in Black: International is an awful film. It’s Sony cash-grabbing as hard as they can without tapping into Barry Sonnenfeld, Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones‘ talents. The creativity is gone and there’s nothing that Hemsworth or Thompson could ever do about it. They are great performers working with complete shit and while I wish the best for them — I hope this puts the MiB universe on hold immediately.
Those dogging on Dark Phoenix better get ready to hold MiB: International‘s beer.