Summer Movie Preview

Chris Hemsworth, foreground, and Tessa Thompson star in a scene from Columbia Pictures’ “Men in Black: International.”

Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson proved that they had plenty of chemistry when they teamed up in “Thor: Ragnarök.” That explains why hopes were high that lightening would strike twice when they both signed on for “Men in Black International.”

The good news is that the two actors still pop on the silver screen. The bad news is that their entry into the “MiB” universe is a mediocre adventure that offers little more than the charisma of its two leads. This is a film that is on autopilot, not adding anything to the franchise that would make audiences clamor for the story to continue.

That’s a shame because this is all set in a world that’s filled with ample opportunities for creative and quirky adventures. Disappointingly, we only get another bland origin story where a young woman (Thompson) tracks down the secretive organization that is tasked with policing the many extraterrestrial beings living here on earth.

She is hired into the agency and given the new name of “M.” She is then partnered up in London with “H,” an agent who once saved the world but who is now mostly a party animal coasting on his past glories. Hemsworth plays this playboy agent, and he continues to show that he has a knack for self-effacing comedy.

Teaming this jaded agent up with a naive and idealistic young woman provides some sparks, but for my money, the real jolt of energy comes when they befriend a tiny, bug-eyed pixie named Pawney (Kumail Nanjiani). He provides many funny moments to a film that desperately needs something to elevate it above the rest of the mindless summertime movie pablum.

The problem is that this story isn’t trying to be anything other than one of those mindless summer movie adventures. It hopes it can coast by with action sequences and special effects. That means we get a lot of riding about in tricked out cars or flying motorcycles, and chasing after one computer generated bad guy after another. There are plenty of shoot outs with shiny space guns and a fist fight or two where Hemsworth showcases his physique. Thompson even gets into the act, trading fisticuffs with a three-armed alien.

In other words, it’s more of the same, which is not necessarily a bad thing considering the popularity of the “MiB” movies. Funny looking aliens, cool secret agents, a couple of laughs and a plot where our heroes have to save the world should keep most audiences entertained.

Unfortunately, the leads can’t match the charisma of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, and the franchise has lost its novel appeal. That makes “Men in Black International” into an okay-but-not-great summer movie spectacle.

Even if you hadn’t been neuralized by the Men (and Women) in Black coming out of the theater, this just isn’t a movie you’ll remember for long.

Reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published weekly in the Idaho Press and seen weekly on KFDM-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.

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