Men In Black: International (2019)

F. Gary Gray
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Ferguson, Les Twins, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Kayvan Novak

It's hard to believe looking back now, but Barry Sonnenfeld's Men In Black was a massive surprise upon it's release. The 1997 film brought with it a great deal of promise, but considering the reaction to the spaced out sequels, that promise has yet to be met. The hopes are there for this franchise expansion to do just that, and while it rises above the awful lows of Men In Black II, that's damning with faint praise for a product that's so bland and forgettable.

As a child, Molly (Tessa Thompson) witnessed MiB agents neutralyse her parents after an alien incident. Assumed to be asleep, her memories were not also wiped, leading to her growing up with a drive to prove the existence of the Men In Black. After tracking them to their headquarters, Molly proves her worth to become an Agent M. Her first mission sees her sent to the London headquarters, where she's paired up with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), as they aim to stop a potential threat to the planet, which is linked to a mole in their organisation.

A major element which turned Barry Sonnenfeld's original into a pop culture phenomenon is the tremendous chemistry shared between the brilliant central duo. The filmmakers seem to have understood that, and subsequently cast Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth as the main agents, hoping their wondrous camaraderie from Thor: Ragnarok would also leap between franchises. Sadly, despite the pairings best efforts, the subpar material gives them little to work with, with their gags also failing to make an impact.

When you cast the gaze over the remaining cast, things don't fare much better. Kumail Nanjiani puts a lot of effort into the lacklustre gags, while Rafe Spall is stuck in a role initially painted as a "party pooper". Liam Neeson is wasted, while Rebecca Ferguson randomly pops up as a one-scene plot device in a zebra Cleopatra wig. Only Emma Thompson seems to come out unscathed, proving a scene stealer with her limited screentime.

The practical effects of Rick Baker are sorely missed, as the glaring CG work dominates the film with ugly designs, carrying none of the memorability of previous inclusions. Not helping things is how listless F. Gary Gray's direction feels, as action scenes occur in such a lackadaisical manner, likely to leave one struggling to recall them after leaving the cinema.

You won't need a neuralyzer to forget Men In Black: International, as the film's quality will ensure that on its own. A bland mess which gives little for the great cast to work with, and can't even coast on the chemistry of its leads.