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Men In Black: International

Year: 2019
Studio: Sony
Director: F Gary Gray
Writer: Matt Holloway/Art Marcum
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall

Awhile ago I reviewed The Great Wall, a cynical marketing exercise much more than it was a movie. The existence of another Men in Black over 20 years after the first film isn't as political as that – it's not just a way of sucking up to Chinese film authorities like The Great Wall was – but it's as blatant a pointless sequel cash grab as there's ever been.

That's especially the case coming from Sony, which owns none of the huge franchise names that own Hollywood these days. Like every other company that isn't Disney, you can imagine executives poring over lists of past hits desperate for something to exhume and try to make a lucrative series out of. Men In Black: International might have been the answer, but not with a movie this bland.

The plot is almost not worth relating, but unfortunately there's so little else to this train wreck this review would already be over without doing so. Once again a wide eyed neophyte (Tessa Thompson) enters the world of the secretive alien police force while an experienced veteran (Hemsworth) puts up with her innocence while handing things his way.

There's some new intergalactic threat the specifics of which I couldn't even be bothered opening a browser window to check (lest it reminded me about more facets to than this turgid crap than I want to remember), and the two odd couple agents have to work together, go off the grid, realise the threat is from the inside, go rogue, etc etc... cue every other stupid cliche from action thriller, sci-fi and every other genre we've seen for the last half century.

All cynicism aside, I'm honesty struggling to remember even one distinctive scene, character, action set piece, line or aspect in any of the filmmaking craft. F Gary Gray is hardly a hack, but it seems here like he barely bothered showing up for work to point a camera at movie stars against green screens before emailing it all to a dozen VFX vendors to finish while he went to lunch.

The funny, beautiful Thompson is the single bright spot, but it's like watching a person hold up a collapsing building – nothing can save her.

Special mention instead needs to go to Chris Hemsworth. He's got a lot of Marvel gold dust on him as I write these words with Avengers: Endgame having only just faded from the box office, but with other major costars out of the MCU that well is drying up. Away from his recurring role as Thor, Hemsworth actually has a terrible run of picking scripts, so he needs to be very careful from now on to maintain his movie star status.

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