REVIEW: Fourth ‘MIB’ fails to recharge franchise

The “B” might stand for Bland this time around, since that’s what this movie really is.

While “Men in Black International” takes place in the same universe as the first three pictures, this one serves as a sort of ‘soft’ reboot. New characters, different aliens and an unfamiliar threat.

This time around, the movie follows Molly/Agent M (Tessa Thompson), a young woman who saw the Men In Black as a child and has always wanted to be part of the group. When she finally stumbles across the organization, she’s able to join and her first assignment is to go to London for an investigation.

There, she crosses paths with hot shot Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), who gained fame for being involved with stopping a massive alien invasion. The two start to work together on a case that at first seems simple, but soon unravels a plot that may be compromising MIB itself.

While it introduces new characters, “MIB International” largely follows the same path as its predecessors. Despite featuring an interstellar cast, the picture remains largely in the buddy cop genre, and unfortunately, like “Men in Black II” and “III,” “International” doesn’t match the original movie.

One of the issues is the film just seems to go through the motions of its predecessors, without doing all that much new. There aren’t enough chances taken in this picture to separate it from what’s come before. One could argue the animated series had more ideas to spice up the concept than this picture.

MIBBlog
Courtesy Columbia Pictures and Sony.

The characters investigate and meet some aliens along the way but it never does much with them other than a quick quip about how they look.

Along with going rather stale with the story and sci-fi elements, it’s also noticeable how low the stakes are here. The film tells the audience that there is a world-ending threat right around the corner, but this isn’t really displayed much. Not to say this needs “Godzilla” or Marvel levels of destruction and mayhem, but the threat just isn’t well pronounced. It also doesn’t help that the villains are probably the worst the franchise has ever had.

A saving grace for the picture, fortunately, is Hemsworth and Thompson, who’ve worked together before in “Thor Ragnarok.” Both are charismatic performers with a lot of charm and it helps immensely in this case. Plus, the two of them share a really nice on screen chemistry.

To give more credit, Thompson’s character’s fangirling as she joins the MIB and gets to try out all of the gadgets is pretty fun, too. It’s a pretty good contrast to Will Smith’s character, who came into the organization completely unaware.

The supporting cast, though, is just OK. Liam Neeson is fine as the MIB leader, but Kumail Nanjiani’s voice acting as a miniature alien gets old really fast. It also doesn’t help that many of the alien characters are mostly just CGI creatures rather than looking more practical.

Overall, “Men In Black International” is a largely forgettable installment, despite having two promising main performers. It’s a shame a movie made to breathe new life into the franchise is so flat. 2.25 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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