Men in Black: International, the fourth instalment in the MB franchise, takes comedic elements to an entirely new level. While the 1997 Barry Sonnenfeld directed Men in Black very much reflected the period in which it was produced, it relied significantly on the chemistry between the lead actors Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Jones and Smith were the original classic comedic duo essential to the success of MIB.
The third instalment of the franchise, MIB 3, took on a different dynamic to the previous films. For much of the third film, Jones’ character was personified by Josh Brolin because the instalment revolves around a younger Agent K. The latest instalment to the franchise brings to the table a narrative every bit as much a product of 2019 as the first film is of 1997. MIB: International, with significant tweaks to the formula, is just as much a MIB film as the Jones and Smith instalments. The comedic chemistry between Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth is engagingly entertaining.
Which direction does MIB: International take the story?
MIB: International introduces us to Molly as both a young girl (Mandeiya Flory) and as an adult (Tessa Thompson). As a child, Molly experiences an unexplainable event. She learns the MIB exists. Consequently, because of her interaction with an alien species, uncovering the truth behind the MIB becomes Molly’s lifetime pursuit. Fast forward to the present day, the adult Molly locates MIB’s New York headquarters. Even though she does not find it easy locating the organisation’s headquarters, with significant determination, Molly gets her foot in the door.
Once Molly locates New York headquarters, she impresses Agent O (Emma Thompson) and is subsequently recruited as a probationary agent. Agent O, the New York branch’s head agent, deploys the newly designated Agent M to the London branch where she believes might exist a significant issue. Once there, Agent M meets the branch’s lead agent, Agent High T (Liam Neeson). He informs her Agent O tells him MIB can expect “great things” of her. Soon thereafter, she meets up with and consequently teams up with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth).
Together, Agents M and H investigate a series of alien assaults which eventually leads them to befriend Pawny (Pawny is an alien voiced by Kumail Nanjiani). Despite significant support from the London branch’s lead agent, Agent C (Rafe Spall) is not quite as enamoured with the dashing H as many of his colleagues. As a result of Agent C’s pushback, M and H begin to suspect there is something off within the ranks of the MIB.
In the Director’s Chair…
Sitting in the director’s chair for MIB: International was F. Gary Gray. When it comes to taking directorial responsibility for a big screen production Gray is anything but a newbie. Totalling 34 productions since 1993, Gray was responsible for such productions as Friday (1995), Set It Off (1996), The Italian Job remake (2003), Law Abiding Citizen (2009), Straight Outta Compton (2015) and The Fate of the Furious (2017). Further, it has been announced the director will also be responsible for the sci-fi action film M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand. The previous three instalments of the MIB franchise were directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. With Gray in the directorial chair, the responsibility for forwarding the MIB franchise narrative was left in the capable hands of Matt Holloway and Art Marcum.
The Journey Continues…
It’s been 22 years since the first MIB instalment hit movie theater screens. The world has seen significant changes during that time. The most recent offering, not including MIB: International, arrived on cinema screens in 2012. Because of MIB 3, there was no need for either Holloway or Marcum to write into the MIB: International screenplay a laborious explanation of the Men in Black universe. The film adds to what we saw in previous instalments rather than diminishing its entertainment value.
The role of MIB: International is clear. The organisation brokers peace between humans and the numerous alien species that inhabit the universe. This role, while significant to the organisation, takes a back seat to the standard MIB premise. Like that seen with previous instalments, M and H must protect a key alien artefact from falling into the wrong hands. Consequently, because the film does not explore greatly the role MIB: International plays in the universe, it remains festering in the background.
Even though MIB: International introduces interesting ideas to the narrative, there is a question pertaining to whether there is enough originality in the production to set it apart from the previous three instalments. Thompson and Hemsworth, previously seen together in two Marvel Cinematic Universe films, the two have proven they have great comedic chemistry. The on-screen rapport Thompson and Hemsworth have is genuine.
MIB: International being a science fiction action adventure comedy. Despite this point, there is a distinctly buddy-cop feel to the way both M and H interact. In certain ways, their relationship is reminiscent of Lethal Weapon’s Murtaugh and Riggs.
In the 1987 film, Murtaugh was the uptight rule following detective veteran on the verge of retirement. Riggs was the rule-breaking LA Police Department newbie. With Thompson and Hemsworth, the actors invert that dynamic. M is the uptight rule following newbie and H is the recklessly arrogant elder.
Is There a Trailer?
What do you think of MIB: International? Please comment. Tell us what you think of Gray’s instalment. Do you think there will be another MIB?