In 1997, Tommy Lee Jones and then-newcomer Will Smith starred as a duo in the sci-fi comedy Men in Black. With the extraterrestrial government cover-ups of the X-Files and the comedic spirit of the original Ghostbusters, Men in Black was a massive success and kicked off two sequels. Twenty two years later, a new direction has been brought to the franchise with Men in Black: International, starring a new duo, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. Does this new entry capture the spirit of the original series with a new team?
The Men in Black are an organisation that covers up the existence of intergalactic being encounters on Earth to the general public. While they allow each species to co-exist with the humans, the Men in Black agents also take care of aliens that threaten Earth, which is a typical Tuesday for them. Agent M (Thompson) is a new recruit of the MIB who is transferred to the London branch under the authority of the High T (Liam Neeson). She teams up with the arrogant, but skilled Agent H (Hemsworth) as they uncover a new threat from a species called The Hive, who are after a mysterious device.
The first Men in Black film laid the groundwork for an expansive universe with all these different divisions and sectors across the world and potentially in the universe. Fortunately, Men in Black: International does deliver on showing this expansive universe by showing new locations and how different people and races interact within this environment. The fun chemistry between Thompson and Hemsworth is still present after working together in Thor Ragnarok as the two of them as Agent M and Agent H play off each other in the typical buddy cop formula of the serious vs. the bumbling. However, the biggest laughs came from Kumail Najiani as Pawny, a tiny alien who mistakes Agent M as a queen as he loyally serves her in a ridiculous fashion.
However, as the film is the fourth entry in the series, it does fall into the trappings of following the same formulas of the first 3 movies, especially the first movie. The focus of building a new team to potentially carry the series if it moves forward for future MIB installments takes a lot of presence while the story feels like an afterthought. While the alien designs are interesting, the villains and overall execution of the story is very underwhelming and predictable as it goes along. That being said, the action set pieces and the banter between Agents M and H do manage to make the experience a breeze to sit through.
Overall, Men in Black: International is an enjoyable entry into the series that has a great new duo that breathes a bit of new life into the franchise but has a very formulaic and predictable story. Fans of the original series might miss the presence of Jones and Smith, but Thompson and Hemsworth are a good substitute that will bring some fun and laughs.