New from Kevin Wozniak on Kevflix: Review – Men in Black: International

 

 

 

 

I saw Men in Black: International four days ago and it is a movie that has already vanished from my memory, almost as if I had be neuralyzed (sorry sorry, I had to).  In an attempt to recreate the magic this franchise that hasn’t had in over twenty years, Men in Black: International commits the most egregious sin this franchise could have done: it isn’t any fun.  Sure, Men in Black II and III weren’t nearly as good as the original, but they at least had some fun elements to them.  Not International, though.  This is a lifeless slog that wastes a cast of incredible talents.

In the 1980’s, there is a small alien that comes to the home of Molly (Mendeiya Flory).  The Men in Black show up to Molly’s house and neuralyze her parents, but Molly ducks away and doesn’t get neuralyzed, allowing her to remember the alien that she saw and the mysterious men in in black suits who zapped her parents’ memory.  Now, in present time, Molly (Tessa Thompson) has immersed her entire life in extraterrestrial life as well as trying to find out who the Men in Black are.  When she discovers the Men in Black, Agent O (Emma Thompson) makes her a probationary agent and sends her to London as Agent M, where she meets Agent High T (Liam Neeson) who assigns her with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth).  H and M go off on a mission to stop an alien force from taking over Earth while realizing they have another problem: there is a mole inside the Men in Black organization.

The names I listed in the previous paragraph, Tessa Thompson, Emma Thompson, Neeson, Hemsworth, even Kumail Nanjiani, who voices the alien sidekick of H and M named Pawny, is pretty loaded.  If someone gave me names on blank piece of paper and told you they were in a movie together, I would be excited, and I was when I heard they were all in this one.  But none of them used properly.  Emma Thompson is in the movie for two, maybe three scenes, which is travesty as she is a cinematic gem.  Neeson barely looks like he is awake in his scenes, not being funny, nor playing the straight-edge boss, a la Rip Torn in the original.  Nanjiani is far and away the best part of the movie as the adorable alien.  He has the best lines and delivers some dry, sarcastic lines that made me chuckle a few times.  But the biggest issue with the performances is Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth, who fail to bring the same charisma and fun that they did in Thor: Ragnarok.  Thompson really tries her best with what she is given, and while the idea of M is interesting, it’s not a character that is ever developed properly.  There really isn’t anything to her.  The most development she has in the entire movie is the beginning when we find out she’s obsessed with figuring out who the Men in Black are and aliens, but as soon as she joins the team, she stops being a person and just follows H around and deals with his non-sense.  Which comes to my biggest problem, which is H.  I am a Chris Hemsworth supporter and think he is a better actor than most give him credit for, but this is the kind of performance that people can look at and think he’s not a good actor.  Like Thompson’s problem, H is written horribly, playing more like a drunken frat bro than an agent.  We do see moments where H is good at his job, but he’s one of those characters who “goes against the rules” in order to get the job done and that just doesn’t work here, especially when he’s playing an agent in an organization that stops Earth from blowing up.  What made the first Men in Black so successful was having an old pro who was a relative straight lace team up with a hot-shot, quick triggered new guy.  That dynamic worked so well in Men in Black and every other movie of that nature.  But here, we have a rookie (M) who just follows a hot mess (H) and that’s about it.  M recognizes H is an idiot, but she still goes along with his plans.  If you do not have a great dynamic between the two leads in a movie that focuses on the two leads, how can this movie actually exist?  A better movie would have been Neeson and Hemsworth, which we get for briefly at the beginning of the movie, or even Thompson and Neeson.

I am very disappointed in director F. Gary Gray.  Gray, a director whom I like a lot and love what he can do with bigger budgets, like Fate of the Furious, has made a movie that makes me want him to go back to smaller budget films.  This is a film that feels like the product of Sony and Gray was just on set to make sure people showed up on time.  There is nothing cool or fun about this movie, everything is bad, glossy CGI, as there were scenes that you might as well have seen the green screen the actors were acting on.  The action is never exciting, especially the finale that just flies by in a blink and has a twist you can see coming a mile away.  I still have hope in Gray as a director, but this one hurt to watch.

As I sit here writing this review, I am watching the original 1997 Men in Black, which is one of the truly great science-fiction films of the 1990’s.  It has action, humor, great chemistry between the leads, and a sense of wonder.  Men in Black: International has none of those things.  Instead, it has Pawny, and though I am a fan of Pawny, the film isn’t called Pawny: International, it’s called Men in Black: International and when the Men in Black don’t work in the Men in Black movie, the movie doesn’t work.

 

 

 

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