Take off your sunglasses and prepare to be neuralised; this is one MIB film that you’ll definitely want to forget.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, Men in Black: International begins with taking us 20 years back, to when a young Molly encountered a furry blue alien and witnessed the neuralisation of both her parents. Since then, she’s grown up and has made it her life’s purpose to join the super-secret group of suit-clad agents and learn about the universe beyond humans. As an adult, Molly (Tessa Thompson) manages to track a harmless alien back to MIB’s headquarters where she’s promptly hired as a probationary MIB Agent—Agent M. To be instated as a full-fledged agent, Agent O (Emma Thompson) sends M to the London branch of MIB to complete her training.
In London, we’re immediately introduced to senior MIB Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), who devotes most of his time to sleeping or partying on the job, while the head of MIB London, High T (Liam Neeson), covers for his terrible work ethic. However, if there’s one pleasing attribute to Agent H, it’s his unquestionably good looks—which ultimately serves as the catalyst that spurs Agent M to lie her way to becoming H’s partner.
Together, H and M stumble across the globe—with little to no delivery of epic alien ass-whooping—and somehow save the universe.
Unfortunately, apart from the audio sampling of MIB‘s original soundtrack, nothing about this film truly gives the audience the impression of it being a Men in Black film. Some may dispute this point by stating that the main stars are indeed sporting the iconic MIB suits. However, both H and M spend most of their energy trying to rid themselves of their attire rather than focusing on the mission at hand.
MIB: International practically disregards MIB’s very roots. Both main characters clearly do not dress in attire specially sanctioned by MIB special services, nor do they conform to the identity given to them by MIB—proven by both M and H as they display that they have no reservations revealing their original identities to one another.
Of course, the most unforgivable offence would most definitely be that this film is completely void of MIB‘s signature disgusting display of alien gunk. What happened to the tentacles? The slime? The downright gross stuff that instantly triggers one’s gag reflex? Don’t tell me that all these crucial MIB elements were sacrificed for Hemsworth and Thompson’s ‘on-screen chemistry’.
The last time that I checked, Men in Black never prided itself as a romantic comedy. And I can guarantee that nobody has ever walked away from a MIB film thinking that romance was what this franchise needed. Men in Black: International focuses more on the sexual tension between Agent M and Agent H than it does on alien fights. In all honesty, I think I can understand why MIB‘s only ever focused on its New York division; because clearly, the other branches of MIB have no idea what they’re doing.
When Agent H isn’t busy getting beaten to death by aliens or watching aliens (that he’s meant to be protecting) die, you can find him partying at night clubs, sleeping with aliens or ditching his MIB-issued space guns for an everyday hammer.
Unfortunately, Agent M isn’t too great at her job either. If you’ve been waiting for a Will Smith-esque type character to save the world on his first day as an MIB agent, or even a strong female lead, be prepared to keep waiting. Because Agent M is certainly not it. Agent J (Will Smith) clearly earned his position as an MIB agent as well as Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones)’s replacement in Men in Black (1997)—through acing a series of tests, heeding Agent K’s orders (despite making some noise) and dealing with the ‘Noisy Cricket’ (essentially, a tiny space gun).
On the other hand, Agent M is miraculously allowed to join the club without being recruited for the job, breezes through the process test-free and is immediately granted the right to make demands—she instantly rejects the ‘Noisy Cricket’, and in turn she’s equipped with one of the best deatomisers (space gun) around.
If you thought that being equipped by such a weapon might offer Agent M great opportunities to show off her alien butt-kicking skills, think again. When Agent M’s not busy running away from fights, losing the item that may very well save the entire universe, or judging that MIB stands for ‘Men in Black’, she’s being saved by male aliens or agents at the very moment that she’s staring death in the face—talk about a female-empowering character.
I wouldn’t doubt that Agent Z’s rolling in his grave at this very moment, just kicking himself for having not appointed Michael Jackson as Agent M when he had the chance to.
I truly hope that Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Liam Neeson had fun cosplaying as the Men in Black because they certainly did not belong in this franchise. While it’s understandable that no one could possibly hold a candle to the Will Smith-Tommy Lee Jones duo, I’m thoroughly disappointed with everybody involved in this film’s production. Not only did they fail to leave this legendary franchise alone, but I’m most dismayed at the sheer lack of effort they applied to their casting choices and script-writing process. Instead, they clearly relied on the MIB name to reach sales.
Forget about aliens, as far as MIB fans are concerned, this film can immediately be regarded as the scum of the universe.
Men in Black: International is in cinemas now.