I’m going to let you in on a secret: None of the Men in Black movies are that good. They’re not terribly inventive in the story department, none of the dialogue is particularly witty, none of the plots are surprising, and on paper, they are outstandingly average movies with some neat aliens and special effects.
What saved these movies… okay, two of the three movies, from being disgustingly average and forgettable was Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Aside from the exceptionally bad second movie, the chemistry between Jay and Kay, even when Kay was being played by Josh Brolin, was palpable and carried the films. If this series was to be rebooted with a new cast, chemistry was a must-have.
Casting Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson as the new agents made sense, after all they were great together in Thor: Ragnarok and both have great chemistry and comedic timing… so why didn’t Men in Black: International work? Why is it so forgettable, anticlimactic, and worst of all… unfunny?
Well, not that you’ve asked me, but then again you’re here reading this so you kind of did ask me, the problem lies not with the actors as they do their best to slog through this middling 1swamp of a movie, but rather the characters. The actors have chemistry, the characters do not.
It’s the archetypes. As much as we hate cliches, sometimes they work and the cliche of the grizzled seasoned veteran teaming up with the wise-cracking hotshot works under certain circumstances. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones made it work through sheer talent alone.
Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson find themselves playing the burned out character and the wide-eyed newcomer and it’s a pair of archetypes that just don’t work as well. They don’t work well together because, quite frankly, it’s a pairing that should lead to conflict and Men in Black: International never allows that conflict to develop, instead being content that these characters simply exist and drift through the story. They exist in a frustrating limbo where they quip and smile and goof off, but never cross… they’re just there. This movie plays it safe with both of them and it’s very frustrating to watch.
No, not frustrating… just dull.
It doesn’t help that Men in Black: International also boasts the same old story that we’ve already seen in these movies three times before and takes no risks or innovation with the formula. We’ve see it, nothing is surprising, and nothing is unexpected. Everything unfolds just as I thought it would. It’s literally beat for beat, the same movie as the previous Men in Black films.
Play it safe, I guess. We don’t want to challenge our audience, do we?
All in all, Men in Black: International commits the cardinal sin that is more offensive that merely being a bad movie… it’s boring, average, and forgettable. It incites no feelings of anger or frustration, it is merely a product that exists and then goes away with no fanfare. It’s not challenging, it’s not philosophical, and it’s not willing to do even the slightest thing to jeopardize what is obviously a collective invention by committee and focus group.
As a viewer, you don’t have the satisfaction of loving it or even the cathartic feeling of hatred when it’s over. There are maybe three genuine laughs in this movie, none of the action sequences are memorable, and even the climactic action sequence comes and goes with so little fanfare, you’ll wonder if you fell asleep for a minute or two and missed something.
Simply put, Men in Black: International is next to nothing… it’s not joyful, it’s not horrible, it’s that forgettable middle-of-the-road heartless corporate product that plays its inconsequential life across the screen and is nary remembered for existing at all. This movie has so little impact, it’s less than air and, to me at least, that’s the worst kind of movie. At least I can get some sick pleasure at making fun of ridiculous and incompetent movies… this one cheats you out of even that small pleasure.
I honestly would have rather this movie had been a bad one than this non-entity I witnessed.