The Men in Black franchise started strong. One of the breakout hits of the 1990’s, it set up a film series that has somehow survived a terrible second instalment and a mediocre third one to now somehow deserve a spin off. ‘Men in Black: International’ takes all the fun aspects of the world that was built, and totally destroys it in a bland film bereft of comedy, action or horror.
The story follows Tessa Thompson who joins the Men In Black after having an alien encounter as a child. She teams up with Chris Hemsworth’s “Agent H” as they investigate an alien, known as ‘The Hive’, who can infiltrate any living creature leading to fears that they have secretly infiltrated Men in Black. From the very start, the plot is thin and unbelievably predictable. The big villain ‘twist’ was obvious from the point the main cast of the film was announced and a massive British actor was in a seemingly small part (alarm bells). Because of this, all tension the film tried to build fell very flat.
It must be said that, even with a terrible script, Hemsworth and Thompson do try their very best to bring life to the film. Their on-screen chemistry, established in Thor: Ragnarok, is by a country mile the best part of this film (and pretty much the only good thing). Other cast members include Kumail Nanjiani as the voice of an occasionally funny but usually annoying creature, Rebecca Ferguson as an alien arms dealer (there’s a weak pun in there due to the fact that she has a third arm), Liam Neeson as a senior agent at M.I.B, and Emma Thompson reprising her role as Agent O from ‘M.I.B3’.
The events of the story take us from Paris, New York, London, Marrakesh and the desert. However, with such a boring story, the globe-trotting feels like more of a distraction, trying to wow the audience with nice locations rather than interesting them in the narrative. Admittedly the film has some lovely design, which is to be expected from the M.I.B franchise, and Barry Sonnenfeld’s visual style from the first three films has been continued, as has Danny Elfman’s great composing work.
Unfortunately, all the great stylistic elements can’t rectify the fact that the film is very sloppy in its execution. The action sequences are very boring and underwhelming. The film tragically didn’t get the memo that big guns don’t always equal excitement. The editing, done by THREE people(?!), is all over the place, and means the entire film feels disjointed and lacking in pace or rhythm. More stupid mistakes include a moment in Marrakesh where I spotted the camera guy and boom mic operator in a mirror… Throw in a terrible Thor’s Hammer reference and the film had totally lost me.
For a film set in such a rich world, this is poor in entertainment. I would be very surprised if we ever see another M.I.B film now – which seems a shame considering just how incredible the first film was – but this naff 4th instalment has all but killed the momentum of what was 1997’s most original film.