'Men in Black: International' Review: Another Franchise Bites the Woke-Dust
Chris Hemsworth seems likable enough and appears to have some comedic chops, but he’s a bit of a blank slate, a bro… There are actors who come with a hint of something more, of a life lived, a sense of gravity. It is etched in the face, hidden behind the eyes. Movie stars need this. It is what draws us to them, to their characters; it’s what intrigues us to want to know more. Will Smith has this. He always did. Hemsworth does not.
There are many problems with Men In Black: International, too many, but the blank slate that is Hemsworth, the what-you-see-is-what-you-get package, is a big one.
Hemsworth plays Agent H who, we’re told, is the top agent in the London MIB office. For reasons that never make any sense, though, he’s now a slacker, a wiseass, a Jeff Spicoli, a total incompetent — so incompetent that when a prominent alien he’s been charged with keeping safe is desperate for a private moment to talk, H blows off him to crack wise and party on. Even after this ends in disaster, H never processes his own role in that disaster.
H is a goof incapable of saving the day, much less the world. You keep waiting for him to snap out of it, to rise to the occasion. He never does, though, because today’s woke politics demand this kind of retribution against masculinity, even if it undermines your ability to believe in the story and world. You might as well cast Jerry Lewis as James Bond.
Obviously, the script is a fiasco, but in the hands of an actor capable of projecting some depth, we could have at least seen the man H once was; and while the screenplay never bothers to adequately explain H’s fall and non-stop pratfalls, an actor with some gravitas could have communicated something without telling us — could have sent a wordless message that something did indeed happen to his character and that it mattered and it’s not his fault this all got lost in a script written by a committee of producers primarily concerned with selling action figures.
Good grief, that script…
Things start out okay. In a cheap-looking sequence atop the Eiffel Tower, H and his mentor, High T (Liam Neeson), save the world by shooting some lasers at CGI and stuff. We then jump back in time to 1996 where we meet Young Molly, who witnesses an encounter with an alien and the Men In Black. This inspires Adult Molly (Tessa Thompson) to scheme up a way to get herself recruited into a group so secret no one admits it even exists. Eventually, because Molly is smart, motivated, and has no life, Agent O (Emma Thompson), the head of MIB’s American branch, decides to give her a chance.
Agent M, Molly’s first assignment is to work through her probationary period at the London branch where she talks her way into partnering with H.
Other than Thompson reprising her role from 2012’s MIB3 (my favorite in the series), the only connection to the original trilogy is a painting and a few quick alien cameos, which would be fine if someone had some new ideas about how to expand the MIB world. Unfortunately, no one does, so there’s a been here, seen that quality to the overall experience and director F. Gary Gray’s frenetic camerawork can’t hide that fact.
The stakes are apparently huge; the fate of the world or something. I can only assume this because it was hard to make sense of the plot. Oh, and there’s a mole in the MIB London office and absolutely no surprise in the reveal.
What’s lacking more than anything, though, are laughs. The script it witless, without wit, a wit free zone, and seems to rely on the actor’s witless ad-libbing. And so, as is that case in this never-ending pile of witless “comedies” we’ve been plagued with over the last few years, we’re told to laugh at lines such as “Yeah, I didn’t need to see that” and “Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that” — which I’m sure cracked up everyone on the set, but Yeah, that shit passing for an intelligent laugh is getting, like, real old.
Almost as bad are the special effects. MIB4 cost less than half of its predecessor and boy does it show, not just in the big scenes, but the simple ones where the background is so obviously green screened it takes you out of the story. Seriously, y’all, exit the air conditioned computer and try a little location work — and stop reusing the sets from that awful Ghostbusters reboot.
MIB4’s best feature is Tessa Thompson, who you can’t help but root for in the opening minutes that make up Molly’s origin story. But once again, thanks to Woke Fascism, she’s sexless, neutered, dressed like a men — a long, long ways away from the effortless heat Linda Fiorentino, Rosario Dawson, and Lara Flynn Boyle threw off in the first two chapters.
Man, I miss T&A…
Also lacking is an emotional component. The relationships between the characters are never believable, and while the movie does try to shoehorn in a connection between the two leads at the end, this is unearned because, again, H and M are not allowed to pretend they represent different genders or that young, attractive, unattached people of different genders might throw off a few sparks — even on the job, which would be unprofessional and undermine M’s agency when she is only making 72 percent of what H makes and shoot me now.
We are supposed to believe H is such a lout he’ll sleep with an alien but won’t give someone as attractive as Tessa Thompson a second look. Why is such an absurdity allowed? Politics, of course. We can’t have our characters act like real human beings when the politics of the day demand rigid enforcement of the no-objectification-especially-on-the-job rule.
Naturally, this oppressive approach gives the movie a suffocating sense of puritan sterility where it could have really used a little Will Smith-swagger and a whole lot of cleavage.