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  • Alex Barnhill

Alex Reviews "Men In Black: International"

Like many, I was a big fan of the first “Men In Black” film in 1997, the song and all )which I think I can still remember all the lyrics of”. The two sequels came along. and they made sure to bleed that cash cow dry, ensuring that nobody wanted to see anymore from Agents K and J. Among that group, I had very low expectations and hopes for “MIB International,” but it may be my favorite in the series. Set in current day, this installment follows Tessa Thompson as Agent M and Chris Hemsworth Agent H on what is posited as the biggest case in MIB history for the London branch by accident when a simple mission takes a deadly turn.

Clocking in at just under two hours, the picture definitely earns the “international” in its title by covering locations from the UK to northern Africa. I couldn’t help but feel like this was either an intentional decision or if this script started as a multipart story, which would have played great as a miniseries or Netflix show. As a single film, it is a lot of fun but lacks at certain times with poorly placed lulls, all of which gets redeemed by the comedic gold coming from Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) in more than a few of these scenes. Interestingly, this may have changed my expectations on Kumail’s upcoming films, as he is that good despite never appearing on screen (sort of), as his character is a small alien named Pawny, but the motion capture work on his facial expressions and mannerisms fleshes out the character amazingly.

Beyond the performances, there are a lot of subtle high spots within the story that elevates the script from full camp to low key brilliant in jokes and premise. Given that the “Men In Black” films have always coyly explained away situations with the use of a neutralizer, “MIB: International” sets up well with a “What if?” that many fans have asked. The auxiliary characters past the big three weave the universe of “Men in Black” while revealing a bigger playground for future endeavors. It seems shocking to call legends like Emma Thompson (Late Night) and Liam Neeson (Taken) auxiliary, but they bring real gravitas to the world as the respective branch heads in New York and London.

All of the story elements, graphics, and immense acting talent would be tough for a standard director, but F. Gary Gray handles it with ease, as one can expect from one of the most talented filmmakers on the planet. And yes…I did laugh when I heard the henchman’s name towards the end. This should be the start to a new series of successful movies, especially if they can keep this cast and crew involved.

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