Directed by F. Gary Gray
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiana, Liam Neeson
Runtime: 115 Minutes
This week we see a sequel/spin-off of the Men in Black series. I get it. Sequels can be watered-down and redundant, and we rarely see a film catch lightening in a bottle like its first go around. (Empire Strikes Back is still the best sequel ever made!) With saying that, I was optimistic for this film because of the two leads – Hemsworth and Thompson. Both actors were last scene together in Thor: Ragnarök and their chemistry helped make it the best of that franchise. (Also, a sequel) MIB: International is technically the fourth film in the MIB franchise. If you haven’t seen the others, they featured Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as partners fighting aliens and protecting the world. The 3rd film used Josh Brolin as a “younger” version of Tommy Lee Jones. The film series was started in 1997 and based off a comic series called The Men in Black by Lowell Cunningham. Each of these films had their ups and downs but this was another series where the first film was its best. Could this soft reboot jumpstart the series?
Onto the film.
From the intro credits I immediately was reminded of the first film. The score was done by the same composer (Danny Elfman) and it had the feel of the first film right from the jump. I could have sworn the title sequence was nearly identical to the first film as well. For me it helped build anticipation by immediately taking me back to the original trilogy. Things were looking good!
We cut to 1996, a young girl witnesses her parents have their memories erased (neuralysed) due to an alien encounter. This event would lay the groundwork for her entire life. We then meet her in present day, her name is Molly Wright (Thompson) and she’s desperate to find and join the Men in Black. We see a montage of her scoring off the charts for the FBI and CIA, yet she’s not satisfied joining them. She wants the MIB.
Finally, her dreams are realized, and she is taken on under probationary status. They send her to the MIB London branch where she meets her boss High T (Neeson) and her soon-to-be partner H. (Hemsworth) This is where the movie takes off. The same chemistry from Thor: Ragnarök between the two leads is on display here as well. This time with Hemsworth, instead of getting Thor we get a flashy playboy who’s London’s best agent. Hemsworth doesn’t get enough credit for his comedic chops. We usually see him as a gruff superhero but in the last few years they’ve interjected more humor to the characters he plays. (Well done) As always, I won’t give too much away but they are hunting down a race of aliens known as “The Hive.”
We are taken to Marrakesh, and just like the scenes in London, they look fantastic. No CGI locations, they filmed on location and a specific scene in the desert looks BEAUTIFUL. Throughout their journey another character is introduced and joins the team. He is a small alien named Pawny (voiced by Nanjiani) For most of the film, Hemsworth has been the comedic foil, but Pawny comes in and takes over and he blends immediately and elevates the film with every scene he’s in.
I was worried this would be the same rehash of the previous films. This is true in some regards. A few key details are easy to spot early on, which led to some disappointment for me. We also get some generic fight scenes, yet we are also given a fantastic chase scene that seemed fresh. With that being said, the two leads kill it and with the addition of Pawny (Nanjiani) this is a group I’d hope to see in adventures again.
A note on it being a sequel. My grandpa got to see the film with me. He hadn’t watched any of the previous entries and he LOVED it. So, don’t be reserved about watching this if you haven’t seen the others, with this being a soft reboot it lays new groundwork and a new story to follow. The former heroes are only alluded to and we see a painting of one of their triumphs. Get out of this rain and go see this film. Also shout-out to Hannah Stanford…someone has a birthday coming up! 3 ½ stars out of 5 (Not her birthday, the movie) #SHOPLOCAL
Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development.He can be reached at email@example.com or 740-981-9158