“Men in Black International” should have worked. On paper it’s a great idea for a reboot, one that doesn’t bring with it the marquee name of Will Smith and the class of Tommy Lee Jones. I respect Sony for wanting to revive the “Men in Black” franchise after so many years, and I respect them even more for side stepping the whole “21 Jump Street meets Men in Black” movie they were planning. But in the end, this new attempts to jump start “Men in Black” for a new audience is a swing and a colossal miss. Worse, it’s absolutely boring.
Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson star as Agent H and Agent M, who employ high-tech weaponry to battle mischievous aliens on Earth. However, the pair also discovers a major threat within their own ranks. Paired with a small alien named Pawny, the pair of agents try to uncover who might be working as a mole within their ranks, all the while Agent M is convinced her flashbacks to witnessing the MIB as a child might help in the case. All things considered the casting of Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth is a great idea. Thompson packs comic chops, genuine skill, and can work off just about everyone, while Hemsworth has proven to be a dashing leading man who can also derive a chuckle or two.
It’s just when all is said and done nothing here convinces audiences to accept it and wants to explore more from this world beyond the subtitle “International.” The original “Men in Black,” in spite of not at all being a fan, was packed with a diverse cast. So the mere implication of “This is the one! This time we have a more diverse cast!” is presumptuous especially when it does nothing with that concept. Sure we get Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson as the heads of MIB instead of Rip Torn, but they never get to do much beyond providing glorified cameos. Thompson and Hemsworth were excellent in “Thor: Ragnarok” so teaming them up again also feels like a no brainer bound to deliver the goods once more, but what’s lacking of Taika Waititi’s manic energy.
F. Gary Gray spends a lot more time mimicking Barry Sonnenfeld than he does carving out his own niche for the series, and it ends up feeling just a cheap facsimile. I’m no “Men in Black” fan, but the original 1997 film had an energy and darkly comedic tone that the future films could never quite re-capture. If anything, I loved the look of the new aliens introduced, and thought that they were very beautifully realized. I especially enjoyed new sidekick Pawny, and demand more of him. More, I say. “International” presents a very good and creative premise that might have worked for a television series, or an animated reboot for cable. As the launching point for a once major blockbuster sci-fi series, thought, it’s dull, long, and never rises above being serviceable. Serviceable in that you might enjoy the final half hour when it shows up on late night basic cable in two years before you nod off to sleep.