Men in Black: International (AU - M/UK - 12A/US-PG-13)

In a Word: Troubled

 MIB International

 Agent M (Tessa Thompson) and Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) in the lobby of MIB London in Men in Black: International. PICTURE: Giles Keyte

 

 "It is a shame that these charismatic stars never get chance to show the chemistry that was so clearly on display in Ragnarok. The intriguing premise also never realises it’s full potential with twists that can be seen light years away and red herrings that end up being more annoying than dramatic."

The fourth movie in the Men in Black (MIB) series ticks many of the Hollywood blockbuster boxes. Big budget special effects, fast cars, cool gadgets, exotic locations and an impressive star studded cast. It is unfortunate that the resulting film ends up being far less than the sum of it seemingly attractive parts.

Riding high off the success of Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson reunite as Agent H and M in this globe-trotting adventure that spans New York, London, Marrakesh and Paris.

The mismatched buddy formula that defined the original movies is given a new spin. This time Molly (Thompson) plays the bright, determined rookie who seeks out the MIB in order to be recruited. Agent H (Hemsworth) is the debonair, reckless veteran who relies more on instinct than planning. The two join forces to track down an interstellar weapon of mass destruction while outsmarting the mole they suspect has infiltrated the MIB. The powerhouse cast is rounded out by Liam Neeson and Emma Thomson as the leaders of the London and New York branches of the MIB.

There is plenty of opportunity for humour with all the outlandish aliens and strange situations that occur. However the attempts at witty banter aren’t nearly as funny as they try to be and the physical slapstick doesn’t quite hit the mark. It is a shame that these charismatic stars never get chance to show the chemistry that was so clearly on display in Ragnarok. The intriguing premise also never realises it’s full potential with twists that can be seen light years away and red herrings that end up being more annoying than dramatic.

It is not surprising that this muddled experience was the result of an extremely troubled production process. Conflicts between director F Gary Gray and producer Walter F Parkes led to last minute script changes, on-set drama and clashes in editing and post-production. This lack of cohesion results in a diluted vision that squanders the capabilities of its stunning cast and clever concepts.

The most successful part of the experience is Agent M’s determined journey to discover the truth of the universe and prove herself worthy to be a part of the MIB. There is a sense of wonder in discovering the cool weapons, hidden locations, amazing vehicles and bizarre aliens through her eyes. 

The strongest aspect of the Men In Black series has been its ability to show how diverse and truly big the universe is. And even though there are forces bent on annihilation, it is the cooperation of very different personalities that will ultimately save the day. In an age of increasing xenophobia, Men in Black: International is a timely reminder that kindness, determination and unlikely allies are the key to defeating the real enemy. It is a shame that the troubled production never emulated the moral of the story it was trying to tell.