Wright or Wrong: Toy Story 4

The first, last and only defense against the worst scum of the universe is back with fresh faces and the same tired schtick in an effort to chase the magic that even Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones couldn't recapture with sequels.

Donning the agent shades and black suits this time around are Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson as agents H and M, who must set aside their differences and work together to retrieve an illegal alien weapon in the face of possible adversity within a compromised branch of the Men In Black agency in London.

Courtesy images

Courtesy images

While Hemsworth and Thompson's  proven charm, charisma, and chemistry with one another goes a long way, working with the general sense of visual creativity in the series' alien creature and gadget designs, towards masking the overall hollowness of the film, "Men In Black: International" ultimately falls prey to the same sense of staleness that sunk its sequels.

If aliens actually came down to Earth in need of a middle of the road blockbuster with no particularly stand out attributes that is still competently well made and diverting enough to pass the time harmlessly, that film would be "Men In Black: International"

Every so often, it looks like the film wants to take some sort of stance on sociopolitical issues pertinent to the inherit themes of international politics pertinent to a movie about aliens walking among the citizens of Earth in secrecy, be it Agent M's white hat hacker-esque style of recruitment and fascination with aliens due to having a humanizing contact with one through the innocent filter of her childhood, Agent H's reckless antics labeled as out of character for his decorated history, implying some sort of disillusionment with the cause or institution with MIB, or even grappling with the idea that key aspects of the institution may be outright outdated.

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All interesting ideas for a far more interesting movie. Those ideas would have had bite and would have required director F. Gary Gray to exercise his admittedly impressive directorial chops beyond passably flowing character driven scene composition with characters that are passably established but not thoroughly explored.

All ending, in typical tired summer blockbuster fashion with a telegraphed third act twist that leads to a climax that lasts far too long, wrapped up in a sloppy bow with an ending that doesn't learn the lessons of its predecessors by torpedoing the status quo of these characters, thus ensuring that whatever paint by numbers sequel the studio wants to cobble together with their notes within the next 5 years is going to have to wipe out whatever progression passes for character development here just to get off the ground.

If all of this sounds rather cynical, it's really because the song and dance of this entire routine needs to be blasted out back with a shotgun by this point. 

"Men In Black: International" isn't a bad movie but the transparency with which it was resurrected is almost infectiously tiring. Every bit of talented from the contributors of this film works like a cog to maintain the illusion of adequacy from start to finish but the whole venture is so clearly passionless that it's draining.

This isn't a franchise resurrected because somebody had a real story idea for it that they were excited to bring to reality but simply because a studio needed a money maker and is prepared to force a demand for it into existence, whether it’s warranted or not.

Diverting without being compelling and distracting without being properly engaging, "Men In Black: International" is a blatantly soulless retread of a lifeless license but it's at least not the poorly made version of a soulless retread, for better or worse.

3 out of 5

Graduating from Texas A&M University—Commerce with a bachelor's degree in News and Editorial Journalism, Jordan Wright has lived most of his adult life professionally critiquing films, from major blockbusters to indie dramas, and has no intentions of stopping.