The original Men in Black nuanced the comedy-action genre for the 90s to such an extent that most of the Hollywood films that share these two genres would use it as a blueprint. The formula became so overused that even its own sequels started replicating it. The sequels (MiB 2 and MiB 3) were either middling or downright disappointing. And same can be said about all the films that cheaply tried to replicate the comedic techniques of Men in Black.
After nearly 22 years to the franchise’s inception, comes this modernized sequel, which is modernized only in manifestation, because it barely seems to bring anything new to the table. Men in Black: International could easily pass as a movie released in the 90s due to how lacking in authenticity it is.
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The Movie Review
The film starts with a flashback of the times this film should have been released in. In 1996, Molly Wright, who lives in Brooklyn sees her parents being neuralyzed by MiB agents and helps an alien escape safely. She’s then neuralyzed and seems to have no effect.
The story then moves to the modern-day, where she’s rejected by government agencies due to her ‘delusions’ regarding aliens. She then tracks down an alien spaceship and is caught by MiB agents while trailing them to their headquarters. She meets Agent O, who’s very impressed upon knowing that she was immune to the neuralization. He also finds her obsession with aliens and the agency quite fascinating, which all eventually leads to her becoming a Men in Black agent titled Agent M.
Then she meets some other prominent characters like High T and Agent H, who recently fought off an invasion of the parasitic Hive race. Impressed. Agent M decides to team up with Agent H in his encounter with Vungus the Ugly, his close alien friend and an alien royalty.
While they’re with Vungus, they’re surrounded by alien twins who present themselves as pure energy. The twins end up killing Vungus the Ugly during the meetup, who leaves a vague crystal for M while dying and reveals that Agent H no longer seems the same and should not be trusted.
That results in a lot of shakeups within the agency, and all that matters then is to figure out what the twins are and to prevent all the harm they may potentially cause.
For a sequel that took seven years of gap, one would’ve expected something more major. It has a weak premise and relies on the franchise’s now-outdated formulas of comedy entirely. It barely finds any identity, and the only aspect that makes the story breath is Agent M, who’s at least something different, while Agent H is a replication of Agent K. It doesn’t feel like anything major, and it fits the nature of a film that’d get a direct-to-video release.
Not to imply that Barry Sonnenfeld always managed to make good Men in Black films, but at least none of the films was bad. All of them at least managed to get the franchise’s style right, while F. Gary Gray’s Men in Black: International barely manages to do so. Besides the origin story of Agent M, the screenwriting of the duo Art Marcum and Matt Holloway barely manages to interest you.
The jokes sound like a parody of the franchise’s comedy, and the narrative itself is barely anything appreciable. Danny Elfman’s original score, including Chris Bacon’s additions, is also quite overused and not well-timed.
The Bottom Line
Men in Black: International is the most disappointing sequel to a franchise that abandoned excellence ever since Men in Black II. It has very few things going in its favor, and it somehow chooses to not utilize even those aspects. Men in Black is a franchise that’s good enough with the first film alone, with sequels only being an option for those with an extra interest in the lore. Sadly, Men in Black: International fails to change that.