MIB: International doesn’t so much reinvent the wheel as go back to basics, with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson bringing some Thor: Ragnarok chemistry to this workmanlike reboot.
The last two sequels had the same effect as being neuralyzed, leaving fans longing for the irreverent edge of the 1997 original – and a villain worthy of Edgar the Bug. However, in resetting the franchise with the introduction of Agents H (Hemsworth), M (Thompson) and the British branch, MIB: International plays it safe and familiar, with M learning the ropes from her cocky and seasoned partner while protecting the Earth from the scum of the universe – in this case an alien menace called The Hive who are intent on getting hold of a super weapon. It’s a case of same jokes, different scum.
H has a history with The Hive, having previously banished them at the Eiffel Tower with the help of fellow agent High T (Liam Neeson). And when alien royalty is murdered on H and M’s watch, it becomes apparent there’s a mole in the MIB ranks, leading to a lot of globetrotting that justifies the title and allows Hemsworth to show he’s got what it takes to be the next James Bond.
The supporting cast is fun, with Emma Thompson adding some class, Rafe Spall reprising his slimy turn from Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, and a bewigged Rebecca Ferguson as an alien arms dealer (a role that seems to have been written for Jennifer Saunders). There are cameos by MIB regulars Frank the Pug and the Worm Guys, and a cute critter called Pawny (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani) has been shoehorned in to keep the kids amused and the adults irritated.
Reliant on a lot of Hemsworth goodwill, MIB: International isn’t a bad instalment or a good one, it’s just uninspired and feels like a missed opportunity to properly relaunch the franchise (and way too long at two hours). The end result is not unlike what Kingsman: The Golden Circle is to The Secret Service – an overly busy sequel that fails to capitalise on its international tag.
In cinemas: June 13, 2019
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani
Directed by: F. Gary Gray