Tuesday Review – Men in Black: International (2019)

films, reviews

I didn’t get much sleep last night. I don’t know what went wrong but I woke up at 2am, went back to sleep for a couple of hours and then tossed an turned until it was time to get up. So, I was planning on getting this sorted out as quickly as possible and getting an early night. Then I started watching Murder Mystery on Netflix. I had to do it. You know I love a shitty Netflix film and this seemed pretty bad. But Netflix gave me a 98% match with it. All of those shitty Christmas films have really fucked up my algorithm now. God knows what my viewing choices say about me. Anyway, long story short, I got a bit involved in watching it and have only just started writing. But I’ll get there. I’m determined. I can’t have another terrible night.

In the late 90s, when the first Men in Black film came out, there was something of an alien revival going on. Science-fiction was everywhere. It was during the height of The X-Files and people were all paranoid about the internet and whatnot. And, as it turned out, the bizarre combination of the hyperactive Will Smith and the deadpan Tommy Lee Jones was an absolute triumph. What wasn’t? The sequel and the slightly better third film. But that doesn’t mean Hollywood was ever going to stop trying to make money from this franchise. And with an even greater all-star cast.

We have Chris Hemsworth, straight from playing Fat Thor to playing Agent H. H is the number 1 agent of the London branch of the MIB. The films opens with H and his mentor High T (Liam Neeson) facing off against the deadly Hive. An alien race who are intent on taking over alien planets. Luckily they both survive but things haven’t been the same since. So much so that Head Agent O (Emma Thompson) sends the newest member of MIB (Tess Thompson) to check it out. Agent M first encountered the Men in Black as a child when an alien broke into her parents’ house. Whilst they had their memories blanked M has spent years trying to get herself in.

Turns out it’s pretty easy really and the MIB are super trusting. Agent M is sent to London to uncover all of their secrets. Unfortunately, she gets embroiled in an alien murder and trying to track down a random piece of alien technology. But, let’s be honest, the plot isn’t really important to this film. The MacGuffin that the agents are looking for isn’t that big of a deal. The big twist at the end is neither surprising or very problematic as it turns out. The whole plot exists to simply put Thompson and Hemsworth into different situations where they get themselves into alien-based mishaps.

But this film isn’t really trying to rely on the plot. It’s relying on the combination of Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth. The two actors proved to be quite a formidable double-act in Thor: Ragnarok and they still share that same chemistry. The moments where the two characters are left to bounce off each other are great and they share some pretty good banter. Does it live up to Taika Waititi’s film? Of course it doesn’t. That was a well-made, well-written, and genuinely funny film. This is a silly film that really embraces its silliness. There’s a lack of straight-man here. I’m not saying we’re missing Tommy Lee Jones but, let’s be honest, we’re missing Tommy Lee Jones. There is nobody to reign in the mayhem so everything is just over-the-top nonsense. This is fine for the most part but sometimes it crosses over the line a tad.

But this isn’t a complete disaster. It’s no Men in Black 2 and with its disgusting “it rains because you’re sad, baby” after all. And it’s more fun than Men in Black 3. It feels fresher without the two original leads and the chemistry between them. It’s just a shame that the pair aren’t enough to make it great.

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