"Saving the Universe from Chaotic Evil"
What You Need To Know:
MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL is highly entertaining and humorous. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson make a delightful team as Agent H and M. The movie has some strong morally uplifting elements, but the movie anthropomorphizes the Universe. A character says the Universe has a way of putting you in the place where you need to be. The movie has a fair amount of mostly light foul language and brief innuendo. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL.
MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL carries the popular franchise overseas as two agents, a young Englishman and a rookie female agent from New York, try to stop an evil alien race from getting its claws on a powerful alien weapon that can destroy whole planets. MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL is a highly entertaining and humorous action movie, but the delightful, comical heroic escapades of Agent H and Agent M come with some comments that replace God with an anthropomorphic concept of the Universe, some light innuendo, and a fair amount of mostly light foul language.
The movie opens three years ago at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Agent H, a young English agent of the Men in Black, and his mentor, Agent T, confront an invasion attempt by The Hive, an evil race of alien beings who take over other planets and subsume the inhabitants, similar to The Borg in STAR TREK and countless other aliens in science fiction stories. Cut to 12 years before that when a young girl in New York named Molly watches as two Men in Black agents wipe the memories of her parents, who encountered a little alien creature. Molly finds the cuddly little creature hiding in her bedroom, and she helps it escape out her window.
Cut to present day. Molly desperately wants to join the Men in Black, but the organization always manages to wipe the memories of any Earth person who sees an alien immigrant. She tries to do it through the FBI, but the agents there don’t know what she’s talking about. So, now she secretly follows any NASA record of an incoming UFO from outer space.
Molly manages to secretly follow some Men in Black agents who capture an alien immigrant who’s landed illegally on Earth. She follows them back to the New York headquarters, but the security system exposes her, and she’s ushered into the presence of the New York director, Agent O. Agent O decides to let her go through the training and, after week two, it’s clear that Molly has an aptitude for the job. So, Agent O sends her to the London office for more training and to keep an eye out because O suspects something’s not quite right in London.
In London, Agent H is hailed as a hero because he helped stop the Hive invasion, but lately he’s been botching his assignments. His partner, however, is now High T and heads the London bureau.
H is assigned to show his old friend Vungus, an important member of alien royalty who’s in town for some galactic business, “a good time.” Molly, now called Agent M, convinces H to let her tag along, but Molly gets angry when she learns H wants her to flirt with Vungus to keep him happy. Vungus tries to tell H he needs to have a serious talk with him, but H isn’t listening.
Meanwhile, two powerful alien beings who can look like twin humans but whose actual appearance resembles smoky red demons from Hell, are killing other aliens. They show up at the nightclub where H and Molly are keeping tabs on Vungus. One of them slips Vungus something that makes him sick. H and Molly help Vungus get to his limousine, but as the car drives away, an explosion flips the car against a building. The two aliens appear. H and Molly try to use stronger and stronger weapons to hold them off. H covers Molly as she goes to the limousine to help Vungus. Vungus is dying, however. He tells her that something’s wrong with H, but that he trusts her. Before he dies, he hands her a tiny multi-sided device and tells her to keep it safe and don’t share it with anyone. He also tells her he thinks there’s a spy inside the London headquarters.
Back at headquarters, a video surfaces showing Molly was the last person to talk to Vungus. To keep the secret of the device Vungus gave her, Molly tells Director High T she thinks the alien killers knew about the meeting with Vungus because there’s a spy in the London office. Against the advice of a snarky but high ranking agent named C, High T agrees to let H and Molly track down the two alien killers.
The trail leads them to Marrakesh, where H and Molly discover the killers murdered a contingent of tiny aliens and their Queen, who posed as chess pieces in an antique shop. The only survivor wants to kill himself since his Queen has died, but H and Molly convince him that his Queen would want him to pledge his loyalty to Molly and serve her now, and he agrees. The little alien survivor tells them he’s been a pawn all his life, so Molly names him Pawny.
Outside in the bazaar, H shows Molly that he’s picked her pocket and discovered the secret device. She tells him Vungus never told her what it is. At that moment, a contingent of Men in Black agents sent by Agent C show up, intending to take H and Molly back to headquarters. So do the two alien assassins. H steals a futuristic alien motorcycle from an alien hiding in Marrakesh to escape. After a big chase scene, they push a red button on the motorcycle and the button engages a hyperdrive on the machine that transports them immediately to the desert.
In the desert, Molly and H figure out that the device transforms into a weapon of mass destruction powered by a super-compressed star. Using the weapon’s lowest level, they blast a hole in the desert that forms a huge canyon. They figure out that the two alien assassins have been sent by the Hive to retrieve the weapon. However, the weapon is stolen by H’s old flame, Riza, an alien criminal who wants to sell it to the highest bidder. H and Molly must infiltrate Riza’s island lair off the coast of Italy to keep the weapon safe in the hands of the Men in Black.
MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL is a highly entertaining and humorous action movie. The great cast helps the story overcome a slow start and some bumps along the way. As Agent H, Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor in the Marvel movies, shows he has what it takes as a major star in Hollywood. He has an easygoing charm that, when coupled with some solid acting chops, makes each of his characters stand out from one another, from Thor and The Huntsman in Disney’s live action adventures series featuring Snow White to Agent H here. As Molly aka Agent M, Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie in Marvel’s Thor and Avengers movies, has a modern girl-next-door quality in MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL that’s appealing and could serve her well in upcoming movies. In addition, Liam Neeson brings his usual gravitas to the role of High T, and Kumail Nanjiani brings a lot of fun comic relief doing the voice of the tiny alien creature Pawny.
The biggest problem in MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL is its under-developed worldview. In the beginning, Agent High T tells Agent H that the universe has a way of putting us just in the place where we need to be. This concept eventually helps solve the plot problem at the end of the movie. Of course, this kind of impersonal anthropomorphizing of the physical universe is a way to avoid the concept of a Personal God who helps us understand our place in the universe that God created.
On the positive side, however, MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL has some morally uplifting elements.
For example, Molly appeals to his sense of duty to convince Pawny that, though his queen has died, he can still have a noble purpose to fulfill. Also, the Men in Black agents are like galactic ICE agents who keep tabs on all alien immigrants from outer space, legal and illegal, while also fighting alien criminals, terrorists and invaders. They even deport illegal alien immigrants when necessary! In the main plot of the actual movie, the Men in Black agents are tasked with keeping a powerful weapon from the claws of an evil race of aliens who dominate other planets by totally subsuming the people on those planets. Finally, the movie overtly says several times that Agent High T is like a father figure to Agent H, and Agent H is like a son to Agent High T. That relationship plays a role at the movie’s climax. Ultimately, it’s their relationships that matter.
Though MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL is an entertaining movie with many positive qualities, the filmmakers should have given the above contradictions in their movie’s worldview deeper thought. Doing that and inserting more cohesive, positive things into the worldview might have made the movie and story even better. MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL also has a fair amount of mostly light foul language and some brief innuendo.
All in all, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.