Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson revisit their Thor: Ragnarok double act and do their best to fill in for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in a splashy, somewhat forgettable continuation of the extra-terrestrially minded Men In Black franchise.
The fourth outing in a series started in 1997 and last seen seven years ago with MIB³, this is also the first not directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (who now simply produces with Steven Spielberg and many others). Furthermore, the series is still officially based on Lowell Cunningham’s graphic novels, which were in turn drawn from the whole ‘factual’ notion of the paranormal/conspiracy theory ‘Men In Black’ phenomenon. You know, the ‘real’ ones. Got all that?
Now as directed by F. Gary Gray, this has a slightly convoluted opening sequence where Earth-protecting Agents H (Chris Hemsworth) and T or ‘High T’ (Liam Neeson before his ill-fated Cold Pursuit press tour) fight a tentacled monster atop the Eiffel Tower before we cut to 20 years ago in Brooklyn where brainy young Molly (here played by Mandeiya Flory) helps out a cute but fugitive blue alien critter.
This leads to a lifetime’s worth of her trying to track down the MIB via the FBI and all sorts of fringe groups, and eventually she (now played by Tessa) just waltzes into their New York office and so impresses boss O (Emma Thompson again) with her chutzpah that she’s eventually hired. So much for secrecy. And for the MIB supposedly all being M only, something which O is also pretty sick of. And there’s definitely something in the air too, because Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique rightly protests the notion that the X-Men are just X-Men in the recently-released Dark Phoenix as well.
Molly is assigned to London (despite appearances the production was mostly filmed there) under the command of T and winds up improbably working alongside the now cocky and unreliable H, whom Hemsworth plays with some nice, non-Thor-ish comedy and an accent that very nearly slips back to Aussie. They get involved in some silly business involving a sleazy nightclubbing extraterrestrial called Vungus, which leads to the hardly surprising revelation that something is rotten in the W/MIB ranks, and trips to Morocco and Naples. Of course.
There are some nifty aliens on show, scum and otherwise, including a four-eyed, six-eared MIB office bod that sounds almost Afrikaans, a talking newt thingie that likes to hide in beards, a three-armed villainous interstellar arms dealer called Riza (Rebecca Ferguson) who’s also H’s ex, and of course ‘Pawny’, a pocket-sized goodie upping the kiddie-appeal and amusingly voiced by Kumail Nanjiani.
The humans are okay too, with seasoned Avengers comrades Thompson and Hemsworth in amiable form and a deliberate attempt, it seems, to lighten the tone somewhat from Sonnenfeld’s meaner-spirited pics. It’s still ludicrously light though, and you’ll struggle to remember what the thing was called in the morning.
Men In Black – International (M) is in cinemas now