Men In Black: International 2019 ***

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‘We are the men in black,’ says Chris Hemsworth’s Agent H during the climax of F Gary Gray’s unloved romp; given that he’s not referring to men, and they’re not dressed in black, it’s something of a stretch to agree. Perhaps Girls in Black didn’t test well, or Woman in Black was already taken, but the main character here is clearly Agent M Molly Wright (Tessa Thompson), who is seen as a child who becomes obsessed with the men in black after an alien encounter, and seeks employment as one. If audiences found female Ghostbusters too hard to get their heads around, then female Men In Black was surely too much of a jump, particularly when the PC step is taken so half-heartedly. And yet, the Men in Black films have, for this reviewer, been uniformly awful, and so this reboot/rehash/retread is, by dint of Hemsworth and Thompson’s chemistry, easily the most palatable of the series. There’s still vestiges of Barry Sonnenfield’s clever designs here, notably a car that also functions as a weapons rack. And casting two of the leads from Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnorok import some genuine humour to this predictable story of agents saving the world from aliens, this time in the surprising form of many-armed arms dealer Riza (Rebecca Ferguson) who hams it up nicely. Some nice gags, like the name of Riza’s Fortified Fortress of For Sure Death, hit the spot, and Hemsworth and Thompson are far better than Smith or Jones ever were. If may be the faintest of faint praise, but this International venture is the best of the MiB franchise to date.

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