Review by J.T. Johnson
In 1997, Columbia Pictures released “Men In Black”, a fantastic sci-fi comedy starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones at the height of their box office popularity. The movie was a smash hit and in the years since, the series managed to spawn two sequels. While “Men In Black II” definitely received a lukewarm reception from critics, the third film was noted as an improvement and was the highest grossing film in the series.
That means that it was only a matter of time before a fourth film was in order. Unfortunately, original stars Smith and Jones didn’t seem all that interested in returning to the franchise. This means that the only way to continue is to carry on with new agents for a new era. Enter Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson as the new agents in “Men In Black: International”. So, did Hemsworth and Thompson bring the same chemistry they brought to “Thor: Ragnarok” to this long-running series?
The answer is thankfully yes. Now, before I go into a movie, I usually don’t check out any other critical scores before I get a chance to check out the film for myself. Once I have seen the movie, I then jump onboard to get a quick critical consensus over at Rotten Tomatoes if one is already available. Imagine my surprise when I saw that this film has a staggeringly low 26% approval rating.
I just don’t understand that score at all. I’ll admit that I do have a few criticisms, but none that I thought made the film unbearable or unwatchable. The first criticism is the whole idea that Agent M (Thompson) needed to be a new agent. Within the first ten minutes of the film, she discovers the MIB, gets recruited and becomes an agent. After that, the whole idea of her being a new agent is really unnecessary.
It could have been just as easy to establish that she’s already an agent and that she’s being paired up with the apparently burned out Agent H (Hemsworth). You would have gotten to the same place faster and avoided the useless new agent storyline. My only other gripe is that the film’s storyline is admittedly a bit predictable and if you have half a brain, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.
The movie starts with Agent H and his original partner, Agent T (Liam Neeson), stopping a world threatening crisis before jumping back 20 years earlier and establishing how Agent M learned about the MIB. Once she’s made a probationary agent, Agent O (Emma Thompson) sends M to work on a mystery in London. Apparently, there is a royal member that H knows and he has something that some aliens want really badly.
The movie contains some pretty decent action sequences and the chemistry between M and H is real. Both Hemsworth and Thompson made me care for their characters much in the same way that I did Agents J and K in the original films. However, there is another character altogether that made the film worth watching all by himself.
M and H eventually meet Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani), a pint-sized alien that must have a queen to serve. After his queen dies, he joins Agent M after swearing his life over to her. His one liners are the best in the movie and Nanjiani takes what could have been an excessively annoying sidekick character and makes him shine as a true scene stealer.
In the end, I guess that the other critics didn’t like that this movie because it admittedly adds very little to the MIB formula. However, the movie is a “Men In Black” film and as far as I’m concerned, director F. Gary Gray, writers Art Marcum and Matt Holloway and the entire cast and crew did a good job of making a film worthy of the series. Simply put, I say go see it!