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Family Movie Review: Men in Black: International (PG-13)

‘Men in Black: International’ is an anticlimactic addition to the otherworldly franchise.

Kernel Rating: 2.5 out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 115 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. This addition to the ‘Men in Black’ franchise uses familiar elements from previous films, including alien creatures, intergalactic threats, fist-fights, and gigantic laser guns; various characters die in car crashes and shoot-outs, and another is sapped of their life force so they look as if they have melted and deflated; some aliens are scary, with tentacles and fangs. An implied sex scene, some romantic tension, and sexually themed content; characters drink and mention drug use; some cursing, rude humor, and insults; and there is some product placement, including luxury cars.

By Roxana Hadadi

In the seven years since “Men in Black 3” was in theaters, action films featuring space, aliens, and otherworldly conflicts have skyrocketed, mainly thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So it seems appropriate that two MCU actors—Chris Hemsworth, or Thor, and Tessa Thompson, as Valkyrie—reunite after the space-set “Thor: Ragnarok” for this latest installment of the MIB franchise, “Men in Black: International.” But very little about this film feels new or fresh, despite the buddy-comedy energy well-exhibited by Hesmworth and Thompson.

MenInBlackInternational2 ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReview“MIB: International” focuses on 30something Molly (Thompson), who as a child saw her parents have their memories wiped by agents in black using a neuralyzer. Molly’s memory was not altered, but in the decades since, she was dismissed as delusional, and her top-tier training and preparation for a job with a government agency never got her any closer to the mysterious people who interacted with her parents. But when Molly finally makes a breakthrough and is accepted into the MIB as a probationary agent, Agent M, she’s sent to London, where she is paired with hotshot Agent H (Hemsworth).

Under the watchful eye of T (Liam Neeson)—who two years ago saved the world with H by his side—M tries to make herself useful to H, eventually stumbling into an intergalactic incident: Two representatives of the alien race the Hive (Laurent and Larry Bourgeois) have made their way to Earth and are trying to get their hands on a mysterious object. Whether H and M can evade the Hive long enough to secure the object and save the world becomes complicated not only by M’s inexperience and H’s cockiness, but by others working against them, like H’s ex, the intergalactic arms dealer Riza (Rebecca Ferguson), and H’s rival, fellow MIB Agent C (Rafe Spall).

“MIB: International” starts off on the wrong foot with two flashback sequences that thrust us backward twice before rushing us forward again, and those separate introductions to our protagonists set the film’s strange pacing. Certain elements of the film seem sped up, such as how we breeze through M’s training, whereas others drag, like a club sequence in which H is trying to use M as bait for a hard-partying alien prince. Although Hemsworth and Thompson work well as the straight woman and the self-involved dope, respectively, the script doesn’t provide either of them with much opportunity for humor. For the most part, we’re supposed to laugh along to H’s overly confident antics and be impressed by M’s smarts, but because the film doesn’t put in the time to demonstrate how either of their personalities developed, there’s not much connection there.

Still, there are some likable elements here. Kumail Nanjiani voices a miniature alien who commits himself to M as his queen, and his insulting behavior toward H provides some of the film’s only laughs. The Bourgeois brothers are professional dancers, and they bring a threatening physicality to their villainous roles. And while Neeson and Emma Thompson are both underused, they do add gravitas to the cast. All of that, though, doesn’t do enough to offset the anticlimactic nature of “Men in Black: International,” which adds little to a franchise that no longer feels of this time.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.  

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