The “Men in Black” franchise seemed to have reached a quiet, more or less painless end with 2012’s third installment.
Hollywood can’t let anything rest peacefully, however, so someone grabbed a shovel, dug it up and re-animated the corpse. As movies like “Pet Sematary” have taught us, the result of that is rarely the one hoped for.
“Men in Black: International” has no new ideas, no Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones and no real reason for being.
“International” introduces a new pair of Men in Black agents, who help police the aliens who are living and vacationing all around us. Chris Hemsworth is Agent H, the suave, carefree hero type. Tessa Thompson is Agent M, the gifted newcomer born to be an agent.
The movie seems to be banking on Hemsworth and Thompson rekindling the chemistry they showed in “Thor: Ragnorok,” but very little of that is evident here.
Hemsworth gets as much as he can out of basic charisma, playing H as a devil-may-care frat boy who can get things done when absolutely necessary. Thompson, though, struggles in what is essentially the Will Smith role. She’s not outright bad, but her quips mostly seem forced, and there are, of course, plenty of quips.
“International” brings back just one character from a previous film — Emma Thompson’s Agent O — and she sees very little screen time, sending Agent M across the ocean to London in the early going, so the movie can earn that international designation.
Liam Neeson leads the London branch of MIB, and it turns out they need help with an alien force called the Hive, which could threaten the world and may be getting help from inside the agency itself.
There are lots of shiny guns, and tons of CGI creatures, and also a pint-sized alien chess piece (voice of Kumail Nanjiani) named Pawny, who spends much of the movie perched on Agent M’s shoulder for comic relief — occasionally hitting the mark.
“Men in Black: International” isn’t flat-out terrible but it is thoroughly forgettable, even for those who fondly remember the original films.
Rental Recommendation: Hemsworth and Thompson are much better together in “Thor: Ragnarok.” Grade: B-plus
Email Steve Ouellette: firstname.lastname@example.org
Men in Black: International
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani
Rated: PG-13 (for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material)
Running time: 114 minutes