Review: ‘MIB: International’ an uninspired train wreck

It’s time to count the “Men in Black” franchise as one to take out behind the barn with both barrels loaded.

By George Haerle

For Grays Harbor News Group

Like “Terminator,” “Jurassic World,” “Predator,” “Die Hard,” “X-Men” and many other franchises that have overstayed their welcome, it’s time to count the “Men in Black” franchise as one to take out behind the barn with both barrels loaded.

It’s hard to pinpoint a sequel to a major Hollywood blockbuster that’s a more uninspired train wreck than director F. Gary Gray’s “Men In Black: International.” Even for all of the glaring faults of last week’s “Dark Phoenix,” it never reached this level of awful. From start to miserable finish, every single gag in MIB falls flat in a shockingly bad script that sounds like a last-minute assignment turned in by a slacker film student.

Stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth seem like they are trying their hardest to add personality and chemistry to dialogue they know is utterly terrible. Everyone else is just barely trying. Rebecca Ferguson is completely wasted as an alien crime boss, Emma Thompson rushes through her very few lines, and Liam Neeson is on autopilot.

The plot is a muddled mess of chasing various uninteresting extraterrestrial McGuffins and a total misunderstanding of the movies that came before it.

The first film took a whacko concept and played it (somewhat) straight-faced. Will Smith’s and Tommy Lee Jones’ various interactions with their extraterrestrial informants or situations all played out like a zany day in the life of a law enforcement agent — as part of a secret organization that polices extraterrestrials as a sort of border control, customs and immigration department. The concept was relatively simple, with plenty of downtime in between to make the characters interesting and likable.

But this latest iteration has turned MIB into an MI6 type of organization. It feels like a half-baked attempt at an intergalactic James Bond as the nonsensical globetrotting of the two lead characters take them to weird alien dance clubs, alien mobster meetings gone wrong, a chase on a hoverbike, lame shootouts, etc., etc. Each action beat is just a cookie-cutter spy film scenario written with no effort to make it as funny or enchantingly weird as the original.

If all of this weren’t bad enough, gaping plot holes and lapses in storytelling logic are incredibly distracting. The film opens with an atrocious scene involving Hemsworth and Neeson’s characters in 2016, then jumps back to the 1980s, then brings us up to the present day — all in the span of the first several minutes. This is jarringly bizarre.

Even a couple of references to the lead actors’ characters in “Thor: Ragnarok” hit a wall, and multiple jokes about fornicating with extraterrestrials begin to come off as both eerily weird and cringingly juvenile. And it keeps on coming.

There are films I don’t enjoy and movies I outright dislike, but I have a very short black list of movies I vehemently hate — and I just added one to it. In a world full of cash-grab reboots and sequels, “MIB: International” is a shameless abomination of franchise greed, with no one giving a damn except the two lead actors and the visual effects department.

Remember the neuralizer from the other films — the device that erases one’s memory with a flash? You’ll wish you had one. Don’t bother to see this film unless you are morbidly curious and in front of a Redbox with a free rental coupon.

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“Men in Black: International” is currently playing at the Riverside Cinemas, 1017 S. Boone St. in Aberdeen.

George Haerle holds a bachelor’s degree in creative writing for media and lives in Cosmopolis.

Columbia Pictures                                Agent M (Tessa Thompson) and Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) in “Men in Black: International.”

Columbia Pictures Agent M (Tessa Thompson) and Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) in “Men in Black: International.”