Men in Black International

The latest in the alien police series lacks the genuine inspiration of its predecessors, but through solid direction and the overwhelming charm of the cast the film is entertaining and definitely worth a viewing.

The film has two main threads. It follows Molly played by a wonderful Tessa Thompson who witnesses the secret Men in Black organization as a child and escapes their memory erasing abilities. She spends the rest of her life trying to uncover who those mysterious men were. The second thread follows Agent H played by the very charming Chris Hemsworth. He is a star agent who saved the world a few years ago and now seems to be resting on his laurels. He gets by on charm and doesn’t take the job too seriously.

Chris Hemsworth is a delight to watch. He has wonderful comedic timing. He delivers one liners as though they weren’t one liners and punchlines in an offhand way that feels fresh.

Tessa Thompson is the real star here. She infuses Molly with a quirky physicality that doesn’t draw attention to itself, but informs her character throughout the film. She has a very light touch in everything she does. She doesn’t try to make a joke land. She softens her delivery and lets the joke speak for itself. She has a natural ease on screen that really saves this movie especially with all the CGI flying around her.

The director F. Gary Gray, handles the material well. He doesn’t go too far with the violence or the action. He keeps things moving and finds the right pace. The most important thing is that he lets these wonderful actors he has breath. He lets them move and operate on different levels and play. The best thing he did was probably the handling of the character Pawny. He is a tiny alien who pledges his loyalty to Molly. He is voiced by a popular stand up comedian. He is clearly meant to be a gimmick. He is in the movie to sell plush toys bearing his likeness, however he never feels like just a contrivance. His presence his handled like another character. His running commentary feels organic not like the studio forced them to include a cute wisecracking alien sidekick. He is funny and fun to have on screen.

All that said, the movie lacks inspiration. The cast does all they can, but the film doesn’t have the surprise or the genuine excitement the original had. There is no wonder in the things on screen. It’s mostly business as usual in these big budget CGI spectaculars. The plot is pretty run of the mill. The globe trotting adventure feels like any spy or superhero film. The aliens as fun, but not terribly inventive in their design. This feels like franchise filmmaking elevated by the cast, rather than a story that needed to be told.

The movie is fun. It is very enjoyable, but that’s about all it is. It is a perfect Sunday afternoon movie. It is my cup of tea – B+

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