'Men in Black: International' Will Make You Want to Have Your Memory Erased

Directed by F. Gary Gray

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Emma Thompson

BY Matt BobkinPublished Jun 18, 2019

If you take the "intergalactic buddy cop comedy" premise of the original Men in Black, but strip it of its humour, you'll get Men in Black: International, a drab, lifeless attempt to reboot the franchise. Despite strong actors Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in the leading roles, there's no sense of vitality as to why we're getting a new Men in Black movie now (other than, y'know, money).
Hemsworth, as the abdominally endowed Agent H, comes off as a parody of the inept, machismo-driven "leading man" type, and while Thompson is endearing as eager-to-please new recruit Agent Molly, the two characters are remarkably devoid of chemistry. The film avoids patting itself too hard on the back over including a woman as one of the "Men in Black," but by sidestepping it entirely, the choice is yet another boring part of another boring movie.
The film is bogged down by laconic pacing, spending too long introducing the protagonists and taking its sweet time getting to its central premise, the potential existence of a mole within the Men in Black organization. Instead, we get scene after expositional scene that repeatedly sets up the world of the film, which would be fine if, y'know, there was something refreshing about it. Instead, it's the exact same as the original — same "hide the aliens from humans" setup, same "wipe people's memories if we can't hide the aliens from humans" punch line.
There is a bright spot in Kumail Nanjiani as Pawnie, basically a living chess piece (guess which one). While a lively addition to the dynamic, he joins the action over halfway into the film, which is too little too late. Add in a half-baked subplot about Hemsworth's character's intergalactic arms dealer ex-girlfriend (Rebecca Ferguson), along with a clunky yet obvious resolution to the hackneyed mole subplot, and you get a film that turns a derivative, plotless romp into an overstuffed bore. It's all a pointless exercise in stretching audience's needs for nostalgia-baiting to its absolute limits, and it's getting far too tiresome. Where's the neuralyzer when you need one?

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