“Protecting the earth from the scum of the universe.” That was the tagline on the original Men in Black movie poster back in 1997. The movie delivered on its promise. There were a good amount of fights with alien scum served up with a side of humor from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. It was entertaining and different from most other movies at the time. 2019’s Men in Black: International, the fourth movie in the MIB franchise, does not quite live up to the standards set by Agents Kay and Jay. It was barely worthy of the MIB franchise tag. It had the cool looking black suits, futuristic guns and cars, and banter from the new agents H and M. What it glaringly lacked unfortunately was the plethora of huge alien fights all three previous entries offered. Men in Black: International focuses mainly on a mole within the MIB agency rather than nuking alien scum in the universe. There are a few encounters and shootouts with the aliens but not as many as I was hoping for.
Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson take on the roles of Agent H and Agent M respectively. Agent H is a MIB veteran who prefers to work alone and Agent M grows up with a passion to be apart of the MIB. Agent M had a brief encounter with an alien at an early age and it became her passion. Agent M practically pleads for the job within the organization and Agent O (Emma Thompson) allows her to become a Provisional Agent in order to prove her worth. Once Hemsworth and Thompson finally start working together as a team, the chemistry they have on screen is just ok. Thompson spends a great deal of time trying to be funny and Hemsworth tries to act like a know-it-all slick agent. It does not really work well. The agents get assigned to protect an alien named “Vungus” and from him, learn that there is a mole working within MIB and an alien threat to the universe is very real.
One saving grace from this movie being a total disaster was Kumail Nanjiani’s voice acting of “Pawny.” “Pawny” is a small alien chess board pawn piece whose “queen piece” dies and joins Agents H and M along for the investigation. His lines were actually funny and they worked to deliver real humor unlike Hemsworth’s and Thompson’s. The little guy really did steal the show.
Needless to say Men in Black: International is a super heavy CGI movie. With an alien in almost every shot of the movie, the CGI was really well done. All the aliens hanging out at the MIB Headquarters were animated superbly and the few villain aliens were also believable and “lifelike.” Men in Black: International does carry with it a sleek and upscale look that is pretty much on brand with MIB. Sadly, the classic MIB Ray-Bans get replaced with the somewhat generic looking Police brand shades and it does kind of take away from the classic MIB look. I had the original MIB Ray-Bans from the 1997 movie and I wore them regularly. Unfortunately, they broke while I was giving a friend a hug. Back then, MIB was huge with product placement and Men in Black: International is no exception with Lexus, Jaguar, and Hamilton Watches outfitting the agents. Lexus provides a very cool futuristic looking car that can fly and the Jaguar was customized to be an arsenal for the agents with hidden compartments filled with firepower.
Men in Black: International is a boring reboot to the Men in Black franchise and to be honest, I wish they would have just stopped after MIB 3. You can find many other ways to spend an hour and fifty four minutes. The whole time I just kept thinking to myself that I wish Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were on screen because they really did it best. Does anyone have a neuralyzer handy?