Review Roundup: Is Men In Black: International Out of This World?
Thor: Ragnarok co-stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have reunited to reboot the Men in Black franchise in MIB: International, hitting theatres on Friday. But despite the serious superhero star power (with assists from Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson and Kumail Nanjiani), the latest attempt to revive the franchise is not getting otherworldly reviews.
Much like the original films, which starred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as alien hunters, the new installment focuses on the secret government organization dedicated to keeping intergalactic peace. Thompson plays Molly, a new agent who is teamed up with an arrogant pretty boy (Hemsworth) to suss out a mole in the organization and prevent a threat against Earth from an alien species called Hive.
Here’s what critics have to say about MIB: International, in theatres on June 14:
"Men in Black: International will not be the best movie you see this year. There are plot issues, character arcs go unfinished, and the ending felt rushed. But it's still a campy, cool sci-fi spy thriller—one that coasts on the natural charisma of Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth, who may be one of this generation's best comedic duos. In a sense, it kind of feels like the perfect sequel to the original Men in Black. It's an entertaining movie made better by the people in it." -Beth Elderkin, io9.com
"As the film pushed toward its conclusion, I had already predicted who the mole was. The film has a very simple narrative structure, making it a little lackluster in some spots. It could have taken a bigger risk." -Catalina Combs, Black Girl Nerds
"On the whole, MIB: International isn't all that bad. Thompson remains a joy to watch, making flat lines like "I have no dog, no cats, and absolutely no chill," work in her favor...And Hemsworth, well, is playing his best version of a Chris...The two, as proved by their previous collaboration in Thor: Ragnarok, have great chemistry, and it's to the movie's credit that there's no explicit implication that they'll be romantically involved. (Although there is a great slo-mo acknowledgment that even M is not immune to the Chris effect — Chris Hemsworth is really making strides towards Top Chris status.) Nanjiani's tiny alien friend is cute comic relief, even if he feels like a deus ex-machina in the final act. But it all feels very formulaic." -Anne Cohen, Refinery29
"Frenetic plotting, combined with workmanlike direction from F. Gary Gray (a once-exciting filmmaker who brings as little to this film as he did to The Fate of the Furious), overwhelms whatever natural spark Hemsworth and Thompson might have had together." -David Sims, The Atlantic
"Is it fun? Some of it's fun. But the action is more straight-up violence than comically tinged action violence. Sonnenfeld found a magically right balance of tones and styles in that first MIB outing, and he never quite found it again. Director [F. Gary] Gray likewise struggles to locate the right mixture, though you can tell he appreciates what, and who, he has in Tessa Thompson...She's simply interesting and funny and real, while also floating slightly above each new outsized absurdity. Thompson does here what Tommy Lee Jones did so well in the first Men in Black and never quite managed again. By not overtly giving a rip about the demands or dictates of the franchise machinery clanking all around her, she lightens the load and keeps everything moving efficiently." -Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"Though Gray brings a new and exciting perspective to the sci-fi franchise and Hemsworth and Thompson have an established comedic compatibility, Men in Black: International never lives up to its potential. Much of the plot is a basic retread of past movies, with an easily guessable twist that puts a new spin on the formula." -Molly Freeman, ScreenRant
"The story trudges through an uninteresting series of permutations and CGI detonations. The "International" of the title means we travel from New York to London and Marrakesh, although our trio's appearance in each location could as well have been achieved via a green screen. All the sprightliness that Hemsworth showed in the Avengers movies and in the Ghostbusters remake is nowhere to be found: both script and direction mean that the spark isn't there, and Thompson has no real chance to shine. It's time to wave the neuralyzer in the face of every executive involved and murmur softly: forget about this franchise." -Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"Certainly, these are the viewers who will be most easily amused by a series of painfully obvious twists and reversals crammed into the last reel, as the key characters father for the finale at the Eiffer Tower — where we're told most of the aliens now living among us first made entry to our planet. By this point, the thermonuclear connection between Tessa Thompson and Hemsworth is what saves the day, more than anything their characters do onscreen." -Peter Debruge, Variety
"In this terrible reboot, there's no local flavor, or any flavor. Thompson's Agent M gets on an NYC subway car — and the familiar dingy cabin transforms into a luxury lounge with comfy seating. It's a special VIP-only MTA, reserved for travelers on all-expense business trips. The subway never looked so clean, the subway never looked so expensive, the subway never looked so boring." -Darren Franich, EW
"In and of itself, this revamp is mildly engaging but also feels like it's expending a great deal of energy for quite modest entertainment returns. It will be surprising if this franchise refurbishment comes anywhere close to the muscular box office performances recorded by the earlier installments, the last of which hauled in $624 million worldwide in 2012." -Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
"Director F. Gary Gray, while experienced in both action and comedy, also struggles to keep the film's picaresque plot on track. In Gray's hands, the mystery doesn't so much deepen as broaden, scattering characters and locations in its wake. And so, with the imperative to keep H and M hopping from one expensive international location to the next, the film's overstuffed plot and elaborate production design end up feeling more like a checklist of incidents than an actual story. Hemsworth's self-depreciating "himbo" act earns him good will, and he and Thompson mischievously bat at each other like kittens play-fighting throughout. But their sibling-rivalry energy, while endlessly charming, is similarly unfocused." -Katie Rife, The AV Club