Every time a sequel comes out, it has a singular goal: add something fresh to an already existing storyline without coming off as stale or tacked on.
Unfortunately, "Men in Black: International" comes off as trite and unnecessary.
In the latest sequel, arriving in theaters seven years after the last Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones adventure, this one centers around the new players, Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) an Agent M (Tessa Thompson). You may remember them from trading barbs and witty banter in the Avengers films? Well, they do the same thing here, but it's not as funny.
In F. Gary Gray's (who may never do a better film than "Friday") film, there's a mole inside the Men in Black organization, a place that has been keeping the peace between aliens and human beings for centuries. The bad thing is you realize who that mole is about 80 minutes before the writers, Matt Holloway and Art Marcum, want you to. Sigh.
When the first film came out back in 1997, there was a comedic zeal to it. Smith was still a Fresh Prince in Hollywood, and his acting style blended well with the sternness of Jones. While the film lost quality with each installment, there was enjoyment and a fun purpose to each of them. Here, there is no purpose other than to capitalize on the charisma of Hemsworth, who plays Agent H in the same manner he would Thor or a few other of his previous heroes.
H is a talented and resourceful yet reckless hero who doesn't always follow the rules, deals with problems in an unconventional manner and is a bit full of himself. Sound familiar? Yep, so does a lot of this movie.
Thompson is engaging enough but doesn't have a well-written character. She's the MIB nerd who saw her parents get their minds stripped of their memory while making friends with a hiding alien in her bedroom. Ever since then, she's wanted to be an agent. Yawn.
Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson try to class up the joint but don't bring much to the table except their names and reputations. Rafe Spall and Rebecca Ferguson have roles that don't render much of an impression, serving the plot as a device instead of a fun distraction. The cast phones it in here.
Worse, the film lacks a truly memorable villain. The original had a hilarious Vincent D'Onofrio, who combined zany weirdness with sincere evil to produce something cunning enough to watch fight the good guys. This sequel has you yearning for Lara Flynn Boyle's baddie. How bad is that?
Look, no one is going into this film asking for the cinematic wheel to be reinvented, but something fresh and cool would have been nice. If you are going back for the fourth round of a franchise that has lost mph on its fastball with each offering, it has to be worthwhile. "Men in Black: International" feels like a pure cash grab and nothing more. The previews that tried too hard leading up the release were a hint that this was stale before it hit the shelf.
You're much better off watching the original again. Smith, Jones, D'Onofrio, Linda Fiorentino, and Barry Sonnenfeld at least offered something fresh and inviting back then. There was something there. Here, you won't even find many laughs.
"Men in Black: International" wastes talent, lacks sizzle, and comes off as the worst kind of sequel: the one that has nothing new to offer.