Good luck trying to remember Men in Black: International the moment it’s over, this is one of the most disposable blockbusters I’ve seen in a good long while. Despite starring two talented actors in a story about aliens living on Earth, Men in Black: International is a movie shockingly lacking in energy or fun. There isn’t even a memorably bad movie to be found here, just a massively forgettable one likely to leave even the most undemanding moviegoer yawning. If you thought the day would come where we’d all be nostalgic for two-headed Johnny Knoxville from Men in Black II, well, keep waiting, that day hasn’t arrived yet, but Men in Black: International still isn’t very good.
The newbie recruit/experienced veteran dynamic of the previous Men in Black movies is kept intact for Men in Black International, which proceeds to plop new characters into that format. This time, Agent M (Tessa Thompson) is the fresh-faced agent while Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) is the MIB agent who’s seen it all. They team up to stop a pair of shapeshifting aliens (played by dancers Les Twins) who are bent on world destruction. It’s a mission that takes them across a small assortment of foreign locales, including Paris, France and Naples, Italy. That’s why it’s called Men in Black: International. Like Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties or Cars 2, Men in Black: International has found the prospect of traveling to a handful of the most well-known of foreign locales to be a good enough sole reason to do a sequel.
If there’s anyone that emerges from the tedium of Men in Black: International unscathed, it’s Tessa Thompson, who tries her best for a character that starts out in a potentially interesting place and then basically has nothing to do character-wise for the rest of the movie. Still, whenever Thompson is allowed to show a fun enthusiasm for the cosmic mayhem happening around her, she’s a delight. Also providing some amusement is Kumail Nanjiani’s CGI alien comic relief sidekick whose basically an alien version of the Doozers from Fraggle Rock. Much of the comedy in Men in Black: International is DOA, but Nanjiani actually gets some funny lines to deliver that benefit from Nanjiani’s talents as a voice actor (remember his delightful turn as Prismo on Adventure Time?) When it comes to CGI comic relief sidekicks, Nanjiani’s character is no K-2SO, but the actors comic timing ensures that the role is no Jar-Jar Binks.
As for the rest of the movie, well, it’s all dreadfully dull more than anything else. Art Marcum and Matt Holloway’s screenplay is a tepid creation shockingly low on fun, areas where one should be thriller just ring as hallow and funny moments land with a thud. A lack of creativity seems to be the culprit behind this phenomenon, this whole plot is executed with such rigidness that it sucks all the potential fun out of the room. Just look at a scene in the third act where Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth are trying to deduce what exactly is going on with the main villain of the movie. Both actors just wander aimlessly around the MIB London headquarters trading stiff dialogue as they try to figure out a plot turn that the audience has already figured out eons ago.
There’s no sense of intrigue in this sequence and the rest of the movie is similarly lifeless. Worst of all, the script saddles Chris Hemsworth with a boring character to play that see’s the actor inhabiting the kind of generic leading man roles he always stumbles in (see: Snow White & The Huntsman or 12 Strong). Hemsworth is best playing a goofball, he’s so good at that! Why is Men in Black: International so enamored with the idea of him playing such a stiffly forgettable character devoid of personality or chances for Hemsworth to show off his comedic chops? The rest of the characters, including a boring boss played by Liam Neeson or Agent H’s three-armed ex-lover played by Rebecca Ferguson, are similarly disposable characters who never utilize the talents of the actors playing them.
F. Gary Gray’s direction is similarly forgettable as he goes through the motions of just replicating the visual style of the original Men in Black movies while lending no sense of personality or style to the filming of the small amount of action sequences. Pretty much everyone involved in Men in Black: International seems to be taking a nap and I wish I could have joined them. Alas, I stayed awake through the whole movie and managed to see how, on top of everything else, Men in Black: International barely even utilizes Frank the Pug (who somehow now has more artificial looking CGI lips than he did in the original Men in Black movie twenty-two years ago) and realizes the vast majority of the alien characters through equally subpar creature designs and CGI effects. Taking a nap would probably be a better use of your time than watching the many shortcomings of the highly throwaway feature Men in Black: International.