We’ve had quite a few terrible blockbusters so far in 2019 – hello Dark Phoenix, Hellboy, and Godzilla – but, none of them have left as little an impression as Men in Black: International, a forgettable and utterly pointless – but otherwise inoffensive – franchise expansion. Replacing Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, International nails its casting for a lead duo with chemistry, but falls flat pretty much everywhere else.
Thompson takes the Smith role of new agent M, partnered up with Hemsworth’s experienced maverick agent H. Those expecting Thor: Ragnarok levels of laughs, though, will be sorely disappointed, as the limp script trots out one-liners that feel more like obligatory beats for a trailer than actual jokes. The plot glides by with very little to latch onto, its central McGuffin so eminently boring that even the characters seem to forget about it for decent stretches. Any emotional beats (which are, admittedly, rare) fail to land, the lack of character work meaning you’re not invested in anyone.
With the exception of the diminutive Pawny (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani), a chess-themed warrior alien, the ETs lack personality, the heavy use of CG instead of Rick Baker’s practical creatures lending a weightlessness to the world and the set pieces. Villainous entities The Hive get some cool moments thanks to the mesmerising movements of the identical twin dancers who play them, but the visual imagination on display here isn’t found in any of the other action scenes conjured up by director F. Gary Gray.
For all of its various flaws and failings, International isn’t outright offputting or fatally dull, and you’ll be fine with its company for just under two hours. But it fades from the mind even as you’re watching it, without ever coming up with a reason to recommend it.
CAST: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson
DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray
WRITERS: Matt Holloway, Art Marcum
SYNOPSIS: The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.