Men In Black: International is the story of Molly (Tessa Thompson) who as a little girl had an alien encounter along with her family. While her parents had the memory of the incident erased, she did not, which causes her to begin a lifelong search to discover the mysterious Men in Black. As a refresher of the previous three films, the MIB is a secret agency that protects the Earth from the scum of the universe and this mission is ongoing when Molly finally discovers one of their headquarters. Recruited and rebranded as a reward for her efforts, she becomes Agent M and is whisked off to London to become the partner of hotshot Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) within the UK office. When a series of alien attacks begin to occur, the new pair takes off across the globe to combat them.
What works in Men In Black: International is Tessa Thompson and Kumail Nanjiani, the latter of whom plays a CGI alien companion. Thompson provides the right blend of awe, comedy, and action-ready prowess to make her a convincing and entertaining addition to the MIB universe. When on-screen, Agent M is dynamic and tries consistently to elevate the fun, while still grounding the action to suspend belief. Her charismatic presence plays well opposite Hemsworth, even if the chemistry isn’t as strong as it was in Thor: Ragnarok. Nanjiani has the majority of the best jokes, and his signature style of dry delivery fits in well with the action, allowing for a few moments of laughter.
While Thompson further proves in Men In Black: International that she has a robust talent set that can span multiple genres, the film itself is a complete mess. Instead of a narrative arc that drives the story, MIB: International cobbles together of ideas and then forces the characters into those situations and locations. The stakes are unclear, the motivations are muddled, and the villains are obvious. Thematically, director F. Gary Gray seems consistently on squishy ground, unsure if he’s making a screwball comedy or an intense science fiction action adventure. And every time Men In Black: International dabbles a bit in the latter category, the proceedings come to a dull halt because of a poor attempt at humor through a bad pun, as if the movie has a joke quota. Worst of all—nothing in the entire film is memorable.
Men In Black: International is the definition of lackluster. On paper, the combination of talent should have made this sequel an easy win, but it only serves as proof that a concept cannot get by on smiles and quips alone.
Recommended if you enjoyed: Men in Black 2, R.I.P.D.