In every movie, there is good and bad, just like in people. Also, like people, sometimes the bad makes the good barely tolerable. Such is the case with Men in Black: International, loosely connected to the original three movies who themselves were based on a series of comics from Malibu Comics. I love the MIB franchise, so when I heard they were making a new one with Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth, as Agent H, and Tessa Thompson, as Agent M, I was very much looking forward to it. Ragnarok was great, and the chemistry between the actors fed a lot into what made it so. MIB:I, however, taught me a very tough lesson: a good franchise and good actors does not automatically equal a good movie. That actually makes it even worse, as I know for a fact that Chris Hemsworth can be comedic gold if he’s given the right script and direction. Even outside of comic book adaptations, his role in Cabin in the Woods proves this point. It’s unfortunate that this movie is going to go down as a dud of a comic book flick, but not even Liam Neeson, as Agent High T (sigh), could save it at the box office.
Let me just get this of it out of the way. Men in Black: International has committed the worst sin any movie can make, in my opinion. It is boring. Its story is flat and uninspired. I wish I was being hyperbolic when I say that I began to fall asleep during the climax of the film, but I would be a liar if I did. For the briefest of moments, I thought perhaps the movie would subvert expectations and give its narrative the twist it desperately needed, but, no, someone decided that obvious was a much better choice. I’m not going to spoil the storyline at all, however, if you subject yourself to this movie, there’s going to come a moment when you think “Ah! I think I’ve got it figured out! There’s the Red Herring!” and you’re going to be wrong, because you’ve given too much credit to whoever wrote the script.
Here’s the worst thing, there’s a movie in there that could have been good. Really good even, but someone came along and wrenched whatever soul it had out, in favor of the bland offering that is presented. The characters, as an example, have the potential to be interesting, nuanced, and original takes on the standard that we’ve seen so far in Men In Black. Agent M is shown as a character that actively seeks out mystery and adventure. She WANTS to join the MIB and goes well out of her way to do so. She is an overachiever with only one goal, which could have been played very well as she learned the ropes as a rookie. One of the common themes of MIB has always been “As much as you think you know, that’s only scratching the surface” and that would have played nicely…if at any time the rookie was surprised by the aliens or technology she is shown for the first time. Agent H, on the other hand, is even more compelling, his role is that of a rockstar-like agent. Similar to Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K, H is seen as the most competent Agent in London’s branch, but instead of a by-the-book cop, he’s more of a party boy. He’s James Bond with a Neuralizer, going to bars, gambling with criminals and sleeping with the wrong people. I would have loved if they would have given Hemsworth more to work with in the actual movie, as the character seems like a great fit for him, and could have been iconic. Instead, somehow and against all odds, his performance is flat. How the director managed to take an interesting role, combine it with a competent actor, and come away with a flat performance is beyond me.
The aliens were fine. All the little bits from the other movies were there. You’ll point when you see the Little Cricket. The worms and Frank make an appearance. Emma Thompson’s Agent O is the glue that ties this movie with the others. That’s about it. It’s like someone was given a synopsis of the other three movies over drinks and dinner, then went out and penned this script. And I know there were problems behind the scenes with the studio and other creatives, but that still doesn’t give them leave to put out a movie that feels half done. Most of the gags even fall flat, and you can’t have that when the first part of your movie is described as a “comedy”. I will say that Kumail Nanjiani’s Pawny was awesome. Kumail is always a treat, so his character was one of the only reasons I didn’t get up and just walk out. The other reason being that when something is this bad, you have to take it all in, so you know exactly what to rip apart when you’re inevitably asked “So? What did you think?” Obviously, that has occurred and now we find ourselves here.
I am a Men In Black fan, I’m proud to admit that. I loved the first movie and I even enjoyed the second and third movie, which, by the by, most people do not, I’m told. I need you to understand how deep my adoration for this series is. MIB2 was one of the first movies I showed my wife, that’s how important this franchise has been in my life. I NEED you to understand all of this so that when I say to save your money and time with this one, you’ll understand how far it has fallen in my eyes. I believe I have adequately expressed my admiration for all the actors involved, so when I say that it was terrible, unfunny and boring, you understand I mean those words. I know it seems harsh, believe me, I was told it was less than stellar before going to the theater, but I don’t feel I was prepared for the experience. If you really need a movie in your life right now that has crazy, alien outfits, and people talking about rockets and space, go see Rocketman instead because, at the very least, you’ll get some Elton John tunes. If you really feel you must go see Men In Black: International, I cannot stress enough that you can take a much quieter nap at home.