Men in Black: International review
Summer movie season is well on its way, and this week marks another action-packed entertaining ride with the release of Men in Black: International. The film is a sequel of sorts, continuing the world imagined in the original Men in Black in 1997. This time around stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson are in the capable hands of director F. Gary Gray to create a delightful film.
In Men in Black: International, we are following newly minted Agent M (Thompson) as she begins her probationary period in the MIB organization. Unlike her similarly introduced predecessor Agent J (Will Smith), she’s been searching for the unknown alien organization for years. It’s been her career goal to unravel the mystery of the world, but she was not prepared for what awaited her in the London branch of MIB.
Even though this is a refresher, so to speak, of the franchise, it doesn’t restart everything. There isn’t a reintroduction to the idea of an intergalactic police force or that there are aliens living among us. The audience is able to just step back onto the ride and see where this journey takes them. It’s nice to not be treated like we forget the 3 previous films just because there is a new cast of leads. Even as the new character of Agent M in Men in Black: International, she doesn’t need hand-holding as she begins her new career. She’s intelligent enough to know that there is a greater world than we first might be aware of, and while she navigates her what that means for her life, she takes every new challenge with open arms and an open mind.
While this film expands on the universe (pun intended) of MIB, there are still some appreciated callbacks. The worms are back, as devious as ever, and Frank the Pug can’t keep comments to himself. Both of these characters give Men in Black: International the instant connection to the previous films. They may be quick and unimportant, but their inclusion reassures the audience they are on a safe exploration.
In a way, that’s what this movie is, it’s a safe and entertaining summer film. You know what kind of movie you are going to get. It’s a relief for a film to meet your expectations. There is an interesting story at the heart of the film, but at times it’s lost within the creative new aliens and the enjoyable action sequences. The linchpin of the plot of Men in Black: International has the potential to be an introspective examination, but it falls short in an attempt to keep the identity of said pin secret until it’s revealed at the end. It’s not a bad thing, the other elements of the film keep the audience entertained, but it’s worth a note to keep subjection away from hoping for a poetic film.
One element that does go beyond the fluff of a summer blockbuster is the inclusion of Les Twins, the French dancing twins Laurent and Larry Bourgeois. What interests me about this casting choice in Men in Black: International is how much their talent as dancers enhanced the action. The way they are able to manipulate their bodies in curious ways matches what we might expect from an alien life form. Filmmakers are beginning to realize that they can utilize talents of a wide range of creatives, be it dancers or martial artists, to create a tangible world instead of relying on SFX.
However, the best part of Men in Black: International is the chemistry between Thompson and Hemsworth. We got our first introduction of this dynamic partnership in Thor: Ragnarok, and it continues to grow as Agent M and Agent H. They have ease together that allows them to play off each other with comfort. These two are equipped with subtle comedy, and when worked together adds just the amount of battling quips that rolls the movie along quite well. It also helps that the immensely talented Kumail Nanjiani is there to pop in when needed.
Men in Black: International continues what began with the original film with an entertaining trip through the world of intergalactic protection. New characters and expanding story add to the ever-growing movie universe as if there were always meant to be showcased. If you are in search of a good summer blockbuster, Men in Black: International is your film.
Men in Black: International is now in theaters.
Written by Lisa M Mejia
Images provided by SONY