Men in Black: International (2019)
director: F. Gary Gray | Runtime: 1h 54mins | Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure
When Molly (Tessa Thompson) is exposed to the world of the MiB accidentally, she spends her life excelling high enough to find them once again. When she finally does, her first assignment is to help Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) stop a mysterious entity that can take over the human form.
Back when Will Smith was at the height of his popularity both as a Fresh Prince and Hip-Hop artist he, along with Tommy Lee Jones, provided popular culture with one of the strongest “we are not alone” Sci-Fi comedies with the original Men in Black (1997). What followed were two sequels that really don’t match up in quality, one feels like an obvious studio cash-grab, and the last feels like a last ditch attempt to provide a lot of charm of the first. But with the 2019 reboot you can find a Smithless new take, giving the original a place on the wall (literally), while also trying to prove it’s own relevance against the lackluster sequels.
The original, among a lot of other things, sold so well because of the buddy cop dynamic between it’s two leading stars. For the reboot they put their faith in an already proven duo of Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, who are both coasting on huge popularity and chemistry since the rejuvenation of the MCU’s Thor in Thor: Ragnorok (2017). From first appearances it’s clear that these two are lacking the individuality of Taiki Waititi’s style, but if you forgive the fact that this film isn’t nearly as funny or unique, there is still a parallel that the actors follow. Their relationship rides on mutual admiration more so than obvious romance, and in a similar vein to the original Jones and Smith duo, they clash in their ideas of professionalism and egotism. Both stars prove once again why they make such a good duo, Hemsworth’s unmatched charisma is wonderfully dissected, and in turn dumbed down, by Thompson’s liberating and individualistic aura (something that only the best really manage to have), as they continually grow closer after numerous extra terrestrial encounters.
It’s these encounters though, that in some respects keep the film at a pretty average setting. Something that made Men in Black unique was it’s play on the conspiracy paranoia of human beings, having them live among us in such close proximity works as a scary thought and a funny satire. But the reboot feels like it loses this approach, starting with a portal on top of the Eiffel Tower and consistently making each scene on a similar level. Even Rebecca Ferguson’s three armed ex-flame of Agent H is fun, but still manages to lack the close-to-home feel with her armoured private island. It’s not necessarily all bad though, a huge part of the film spends it’s time in Marrakesh, introducing tiny sidekick Pawny (the funniest character thanks to Kumail Nanjiani) and dousing the hot surroundings with the alien vibe. It’s a strong case for the reboot as the better sequel, but this case isn’t represented throughout the entire film.
As a reboot/sequel, it’s a harmless rendition that doesn’t offend but doesn’t quite capture the spirit of the original. Everything from the direction, the comedy and the pairing feels like it’s on safe mode, but in some cases this is a good thing. It hints at the gender implications of ‘Men in Black’, but never diminishes it’s own product, and more importantly as a sequel it never relies on it’s host to be entertaining but rather has faith in it’s own ability and new cast. It’s definitely not out of this world, but if you’re a fan of simple entertainment you won’t be alienated in the slightest.