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Men in Black: International is cosmically unfunny

directed by F Gary Gray

Twenty years ago, the first Men in Black film opened with a pretty good gag: an immigrant of the extraterrestrial variety was foiled by Earth’s border patrol force trying to sneak into the US from Mexico. In other words: aliens equals aliens.

One might expect this fourth instalment in the sci-fi franchise to muster a bit of satirical vigour and try that joke again. But no, this cosmically unfunny film exists in total defiance of common sense and even the most basic rules of film-making. It’s full of flubbed lines, lapses of continuity and some deeply odd conclusions to scenes, with the camera aimlessly gazing into the distance at nothing in particular.

Macro alias: ModuleRenderer

Perhaps wisely, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have absented themselves from Men in Black: International. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson (co-stars in Thor: Ragnarok) must fill those ill-fitting black polyester suits and trudge through a dreadful, perfunctory, scantily plotted, incoherent mess. The film is so committed to mining dire depths that Liam Neeson’s character – the head of MIB’s London branch – is named “High T”. Seriously.

The only redeeming quality is a little green man, voiced by the comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who shows up and injects some desperately needed sarcasm. Some parts of the second half even take on the derisive air of a spoof. But it’s not enough to redeem any of this. It’s a spectacular supernova of failure that ought to be jettisoned into a black hole.


Video: Sony Pictures New Zealand

This article was first published in the June 29, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.