Film Review - Men in Black: International

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth in a scene from Columbia Pictures’ “Men in Black: International.”

The unnecessary summer film seems to be the theme of the summer of 2019. Currently there are several of these films in theaters. There is the “Aladdin,” a film I reviewed a few weeks ago, and one that was sub-par film and made you crave watching the original. There is “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” another sub-par film that is currently in theaters. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is a one-timer for those that like to see giant monsters throw each other around. Mothra was one of the few enjoyable experiences of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”

Then there is “Men in Black: International.”

“Men in Black: International” is an expansion on the beloved film universe created by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. The film stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. Two rising stars looking to secure their star status and compound the success both have garnered with their Marvel universe characters of Thor and Valkyrie.

“Men in Black: International” happens after the Men in Black have expanded to cover the globe. Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), a decorated but lax veteran, is partnered with rookie M (Tessa Thompson). When aliens that can take the form of any human threaten Earth, H and M work together to stop the bad guys.

Hemsworth as Agent H is joy to watch perform, especially with his want or need to challenge himself in roles. The need of Hemsworth’s to challenge himself is one of the main reasons we have a Thor character in the Marvel universe that everyone seems to enjoy. I am not sure Hemsworth has even scratched the surface of what he can do in the acting universe, but I for one am happy to see the different roles he takes. If the last few years are any indication, we should be in for a fun ride aboard the Hemsworth acting train.

In “Men in Black: International” Hemsworth delivers a fun character in a movie that is struggling to find itself. Agent H starts as a serious agent and turns into an agent that messes up constantly. This character range gives Hemsworth range to work and he does his best and brings some laughs but in the “Men in Black” universe his character is not interesting enough to care about.

The original Kay, who was stoic to the extreme, had a more interesting level of character development. Hemsworth’s Agent H feels like a mix of both Will Smith’s Jay and Tommy Lee’s Kay, two opposing personalities that do not work well together.

If “Men in Black: International” only had the one character and it was just Hemsworth’s Agent H then the film might feel less foolish and could have concentrated on the one character’s transition from hard working agent to Mathew McConaughey as a Men In Black agent. The character transition of Hemworth’s Agent H could have been a much deeper and well rounded film. Instead they also have Tessa Thompson’s Agent M.

Thompson’s Agent M is exactly the same as Hemsworth’s Agent H. They are similar in almost every way but they are far too similar in humor, and in “Men in Black: International” they use humor a lot, maybe even too much.

Hemsworth’s H goes from buttoned-up agent to screwball agent who meets Agent M, who is a buttoned-up overly-serious and over-compensating rookie agent. Then by the end of the film, Tessa Thompson’s Agent M is a more laid back, joke cracking, only semi-serious agent. This is also exactly where Hemsworth’s Agent H lands by the end of the film when he learns he has been screwing up.

Now both are a semi-serious, semi-wise cracking pair of agents who feel like the same exact character and the only difference is they both got there in similar but slightly different ways. This sentiment pretty much encapsulates the entirety of “Men in Black: International.”

“Men in Black: International” wants to be a serious (as a film not in tone) entrant into the “Men in Black” franchise, a film that holds and stands on its own. However, “Men in Black: International” feels like a rebooting of the original and the film follows a similar story and similar plot points as the original.

The film has Agent M, who seeks out and finds the Men in Black and becomes an agent in training. Somehow this is supposed to feel different from the original “Men in Black” where Will Smith’s Jay is recruited. Is it that different though? “Men in Black: International” sure does nothing to make it feel different.

You have two agents in Agent H and Agent M who feel, at times, very much like both Will Smith’s and Tommy Lee’s characters. The plot points and the story are very, very similar. In the first “Men in Black” the duo of Jay and Kay are looking for an energy source called “The Galaxy” and in “Men in Black: International” they have a powerful weapon. The difference is negligible, “Men in Black: International” as a film is also negligible.

“Men in Black: International” is fun and even enjoyable in some aspects. There are a lot of critics who have slammed it and gone as far as to call it unwanted trash of a film, I won’t go that far. “Men in Black: International” is not a good film but it is an enjoyable one. The two leads, Hemsworth and Thompson, make sure the viewer is entertained. They both have wonderful on screen chemistry, not only with each other but with the audience. The chemistry with the audience is far more important to “Men in Black: International,” without that chemistry the film would be unwanted trash.

Hemsworth and Thompson at the very least give the viewer an experience. Sure, that experience is short lived and even a forgettable one, but in a summer where the bar for films does not seem to be that high, “Men in Black: International” at least offers that. F. Gary Gray who directs “Men in Black: International” at least knows this and is good at shining the light on it’s stars. These films are his specialty, as he has directed a “Fast and Furious” film where shining up a bad film with its lead actors is a full time job.

In “Men in Black: International” there is plenty of shine and it all comes from the two leads, Hemsworth and Thompson. If you like them or liked their Marvel characters then you can at the very least enjoy “Men in Black: International” while you are watching it. Then promptly forget you ever saw it and that sad feat is, at this point in time, the biggest accomplishment any film as made in this 2019 summer movie season.

IRATE SCORE: 2/5

Jason Guyer is an avid moviegoer and works in the graphics department at the Eagle Times. For questions or comments he can be emailed at guyerj@eagletimes.com

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