‘Men in Black: International’ Charming Center without a Worthy, Witty Script

The charm of Chris Hemsworth isn’t quite enough to carry this film which pairs him with his “Thor: Ragnarok” bud Tess Thompson. Hemsworth and Thompson have the buddy bond down but the lines in Art Marcum and Matt Holloway’s script are too weak to call any of this 115 minutes witty sparring.

In the interest of feminism, Marcum and Holloway have opted for the handsome but slightly dimmer light male paired with the brightest bulb of the feminine kind. Handsome but dumb dude is the beefcake; bright newbie is the brains.

At the beginning we have two Brits, MIG agent High T (Liam Neeson) who is head of MIB’s UK branch, with Agent H (Hemsworth) climbing the Eiffel Tower in 2016. High T comments, “God do I hate Paris.”

Agent H is more optimistic, saying, “Not to worry. It probably won’t be around much longer.” The two men come upon two young lovers (Romanos Blanco and Aiste Dirziute), with the man getting ready to propose because they are neuralized and told to try and propose in another place. But as High T and H attempt to close a portal and The Hive from entering, H bumps into the young lovers and they get neuralized two more times.

Before you can wonder what an Irishman and an Aussie (or an Aussie playing a Brit) are doing in Paris because one suspects there should be an MIB branch in France, the screen goes white. From

Jumping back to 20 years earlier in Brooklyn, we see a young Molly Wright watching as her parents (Marcy Harriell and Inny Clemons), after meeting an alien, being neuralized, but Molly (Mandelya Flory) is upstairs and doesn’t get the full effect and she helps a cute blue alien escape. Molly, is a genius and the script telegraphs this because she’s reading Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time.” Growing up into Molly of the Tessa Thompson edition, Molly is bright and determined, scoring well on all the right tests, but when facing an FBI (Matthew Bates) or CIA (Sartaj Garewal) recruiter or HR person, she wants in at the unnamed agency with the neuralizers.

This leads Molly to a dead end job where in between her actual work as a service provider, she tracks down alien landings–in this case Jimmy. She follows the Men in Black agents back to their headquarters and convinces the head of the US branch, Agent O ( Emma Thomson), not to neuralize her, but to take her in as a probationary agent M.

Again, you might wonder why there’s a Brit in charge of the US branch, and just how international international is if the UK branch has to go to France. That question doesn’t get answered.

After a brief training period (which we don’t see), Molly becomes a probationary agent and sent to the London branch where she meets High T.  The tardy Agent H, who returns after gambling in a poisonously high stakes game and saving his own life by sleeping with a tentacled alien (those with a thirst for Hemsworth-y beefcake after the funnily gone-fat Thor will be rewarded here), is chosen to provide security and a good time for the party animal alien, Vungus the Ugly (Kayvan Novak).

Although High T has high regard for H, others do not share his opinion with Agent C (Rafe Spall) being the chief doubter. According to him, High T has been covering for H and the good times of H’s competency are long gone. At the disco, while H misses the coming threat of the dancing twin aliens (Laurent and Larry Bourgeois–or Les Twins, French hip hop dancers) who are after something that Vungus possesses.

Discovering that H has somehow changed since the 2016 confrontation with The Hive where H and High T saved the world, Vungus decides to give the object, a set of crystals, to M. Now you might wonder if there was some sort of angst or PTSD involved with Agent H’s change, but the script doesn’t really address this.

The Twin aliens transport themselves to Marrakesh and attack some cute miniature-sized aliens who live on an over-sized chess board. Agents H and M get there only in time to adopt the only survivor, a pawn who is dubbed Pawny (voiced by Kamil Nanjiani), who takes M as his new queen.  The crystals, which convert to a high-powered weapon, is stolen from M and H knows that the likely person to receive such goods would be his old girlfriend, Riza Stravos (Rebecca Ferguson), and the threesome journey to Riza’s Fortress of certain death.

In the original movie, Will Smith’s newbie had a police officer background (and later we learn, a secret connection with his mentor). He was thoughtful about giving up his life and erasing his identity. Molly is all too eager. Smith’s Agent was sometimes shocked and even revulsed by what he saw but we don’t get that kind of reaction from Molly.

There’s no zing or sting and snap to the dialogue. The Hive doesn’t quite live up to its name. There is delight in the Hemsworth-Thompson chemistry and the dancing danger of The Twins, but the movie is all promise and potential that remains just outside of the grasp of the writers. Director F. Gary Gary (“The Italian Job” and “The Fate of the Furious”) keeps the action scenes tight and dramatic, but doesn’t provide any nuance to develop the characters and suggest their lives beyond the movie.

We got to see it in 4DX, which made if more fun, but the plot wasn’t as conducive to the rocking and rolling. Looking back at the original “Men in Black,” that might have been a better match with 4DX. “Men in Black: International” wants to be a James Bond parody that gives respect to women and gives nods to buddy movies, but this dialogue isn’t up to the challenge. I still think 4DX is fun, but “Men in Black: International” isn’t fun enough.

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