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With: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Kumail Nanjiani, Liam Neeson, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Ferguson, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson, Tim Blaney
Written by: Matt Holloway, Art Marcum
Directed by: F. Gary Gray
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material
Running Time: 114
Date: 06/14/2019

Men in Black: International (2019)

2 Stars (out of 4)

'Black' Hole

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This fourth movie in the sci-fi/comedy series arrives at much the same place as the other sequels; it's fine, but flat and lackluster, not as funny, as surprising, or as wondrous as the 1997 original.

In Men in Black: International, young Molly watches as her parents are visited by the Men in Black and neuralyzed after encountering an alien. She grows up wanting to join MIB and, through great perseverance, finally manages to find their headquarters. She's made a probationary agent, called Agent M (Tessa Thompson), and sent to London, where she meets the reckless and charming Agent H (Chris Hemsworth).

Their first mission is to meet a friendly alien called Vungus in a nightclub. After an attack by two powerful alien twins, Vungus gives Agent M a mysterious object, asking her not to trust anyone. Returning to headquarters, Agent M deduces that, for the attack to have happened, there must be a mole inside MIB headquarters. From there, the two agents must keep tabs on the strange object, and figure out what happened to Agent H on his last mission, before they can save the universe.

Thompson and Hemsworth of course worked together in Thor: Ragnarok, but their chemistry is somehow lacking in Men in Black: International. Once Thompson's Agent M achieves her dream, she doesn't seem to have anywhere to go but sideways, and Hemsworth just isn't as charming as he usually is (his character is going through something; he's muted, said to be "acting differently"). The story they have been given is disappointingly routine, with dull villains and a "surprise" reveal that's all too easy to spot.

The original Men in Black was constantly surprising, as the aliens hid themselves on earth in clever and unexpected ways, and very funny, as Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones bantered at an expert level, not to mention its comically nonchalant attitude toward danger. Men in Black: International is more about scary bad guys and cool cars and explosive weapons than it is about fun aliens or the suit-wearing heroes getting to know each other.

It's too busy plowing through its plot to come up with any moments of delight or humanity that really resonate. The cast is still likable, and the movie looks good, but it just needed more. In the end, it'll be gone from the memory almost as soon as you see it, as if the movie itself were its own neuralyzer.

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