If you aren’t tired of comic book level action/adventure movies, the new “Men in Black International” will amused you. The movie hasn’t the scale of the biggest Marvel or DC blow-outs. But it has a good cast, a dependable story, some decent action and industry-standard special effects.
Tessa Thompson (who we know from “Creed”) had a childhood encounter with an MIB team of illegal space emigrant handlers. Her memory of it was not erased by the flash of the neuralyzer device MIB agents always use.
As an adult she uses a computer to track something she feels sure is a fake meteorite. Sure enough, its an alien arrival, landing right where she can follow it into MIB HQ and encourage agency boss (Emma Thompson, a terrific actor) to hire her.
She is given probationary status and is sent to London where the boss says there seems to be trouble. That’s significant. And so is the pitch, made along in this passage, that our lives are pre-ordained. Fate has an odd status in the movie.
Once in the Smoke, M (Thompson) meets the swashbuckling H (Chris “Thor” Hemsworth, the most popular Aussie in film), sober local director High T (Liam Neeson), and eventually office analyst C and a loyal little alien chessman referred to as Pawnee. The local office seems to be unsure about H’s loyalty.
Nevertheless, he attaches himself to M’s mission, the corralling of twin aliens who appear first in Morocco. They want to grab a tiny, many-pointed Rubik’s Cube of a device that folds out into “the world’s most powerful weapon.” There is some controversy over whether the two are acting for or against “The Hive,” a powerful alien force that wants to take over Earth.
Got it? So M, regularly surprised by hidden aliens, is keeping an eye on the possibly traitorous and certainly adolescent-behaving H as the two chase through Paris, Marrakesh and a private Mediterranean island trying to secure the device, learn its applications and avoid control by C or High T.
Hemsworth, of course, specializes in rollicking action comedy. The movie gives him opportunities to act like an Australian hunk romancing and shooting and driving and punching his way around the region. Thompson the younger makes a good counterpart to him. Her character has some depth. His is fabulously flat and happy.
And, then, the script was written with a bit more care than are the scripts for many superhero movies. When former lover Riza (Rebecca Ferguson, who had prominent roles in a couple of “Mission Impossible” movies) goes to work on H, M gets them out of trouble relying on an earlier-established friendship. Story “preparation” of this sort isn’t new or difficult to manage. But it is also beyond the abilities of most action/adventure screen writers.
Matt Holloway and Art Marcum, who wrote the script, collaborated on a movie or two of the “Iron Man” series. Director F. Gary Gray is fast becoming one of our most dependable contemporary filmmakers. He did cult classic “Friday,” the good “Italian Job” remake, and the notable “Straight Outta Compton.”
Agent C is played by Rafe Spall, a hardworking and talented English actor we know from Simon Pegg’s movies. Get used to the idea that you’re going to be hearing from and seeing Kumail Nanjiani, who does Pawnee’s voice here, in a lot of up-coming entertainments. He’s already showing up in trailers for “Stuber,” in which he seems to play the Uber-driver lead character.
One can easily think of excuses for not praising “MIB: International.” It doesn’t have the scale of a “Thor” movie. Even given its false bottom conclusion, the movie’s plot isn’t absolutely fresh stuff.
And, then, who could blame us if we aren’t tired of sequels in action/adventure franchises? If you like this sort of movie and haven’t tired of the new generations of X Men and Avengers and Mission Imposiqule and Justice League and Fast and Furious sorts of films, “Men in Black International” will probably entertain you.