Film: “Men In Black: International”; Director: F. Gary Gray; Cast: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Liam Neeson, Laurent Bourgeois and Larry Bourgeois; Rating: ***
Director F. Gary Gray’s “Men in Black: International”, the fourth instalment of the extra-terrestrial investigation, is a spin-off from the “Men In Black” film series, which is loosely based on the Marvel comics of the same name created by Lowell Cunningham.
For the uninitiated, Men in Black is a top-secret organization established to monitor and police, alien activity on Earth.
Stylishly mounted with comic book effects, that places equally intense attention to everything that suits its material, the film has a determined, more than natural, feel of high energy that propels the narrative about a mole in the Men in Black Organisation.
Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), the blue-eyed boy of Agent ‘High Tea’ (Liam Neeson) is paired with a civilian, Agent M (Tessa Thompson) to save the Earth from Hive, an evil alien race. How they dodge the shapeshifting twins from Marrakesh on through the desert and fight Agent H’s former flame Riza (Rebecca Ferguson) to get hold of a tremendously destructive weapon, forms the crux of the narrative.
The script, penned by “Iron Man” scribes Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, appears uninspiring, staid and predictable and the actions may fail to excite, but the effortless and cool charms of the protagonists, Thompson and Hemsworth are what keep us glued to the screen. While Thompson has a captivating composure, Hemsworth’s performance feels overly frantic and his performance at times is over the top. But together, they make an amiable pair whose on-screen chemistry is palpable.
The duo is aptly supported by Liam Neeson as ‘High Tea’, the leader of MIB’s UK branch, Emma Thompson as Agent O, the head of the MIB US branch, Rafe Spall as the British Agent C who is suspicious of Agent H’s activities, Rebecca Ferguson as the multi-armed alien who has a soft corner for H, the Bourgeois twins Laurent and Larry (Les Twins from the World of Dance Champions) as the menacing, enemy alien species that move rapidly, and Kumail Nanjiani who lends his voice to Pawny the miniature alien that befriends Agent M. They all have their moments of on-screen glory and they elevate the viewing experience.
Mounted with ace production values, the film is visually sleek where aliens and cars seamlessly morph into humans and space-ships and vice-versa. And the narrative with its dauntless operatives, takes us to exotic places like Paris, London, New York and Marrakesh.
With a run time of 115 minutes, the first act drags a bit but picks up momentum midway right till the end. There are some really comical moments, either through dialogues or action strewn throughout the narrative. One that stands out is the faint reference to a Thor moment.
With Thompson in the lead, this edition simply gives a thrust to “Women in Black” and has a reference about it. So, those seeking a male-propelled narrative may find this tale disappointing.
Overall, “Men In Black: International”, even though it is not satisfying, simply holds your attention.