Sony Pictures Entertainment

Well, somebody must’ve wanted this. Men in Black: International is the fourth movie in the sci-fi comedy franchise, and yes, I’m counting correctly. There was a third Men in Black movie back in 2012, though our collective memories of that particular installment seem to have been erased by one of those neuralyzer flash thingies.

This one’s a soft reboot, with Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth sporting the dark suits and waving the neuralyzers, while Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are nowhere to be found. The "international" component seems to be a clear attempt to market the series overseas, and the movie contains sequences in Paris, Marrakesh, London, and an island fortress somewhere off the coast of Italy.

It’s not a terrible idea, actually—reframing the franchise as a globetrotting adventure that leans heavily on the espionage elements of the source comic book. Hemsworth certainly has the necessary James Bond-like qualities, and he walks the same line between derring-do and total doofus that he does as Thor, although here it feels like he’s going through the motions. Thompson, his Thor: Ragnarok co-star, is too interesting and quirky an actor to play the straightforward protagonist role she’s been given, and the result is something much more boring than we should be seeing from her.

The movie finally attains the correct level of zaniness when Rebecca Ferguson enters the story as Hemsworth’s three-armed extra-terrestrial ex.

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In fact, the first hour or so of International is pretty tedious, with far too much emphasis on the intricacies of the agency’s labyrinthine bureaucracy. And the world-ending crisis—a small gem-like thing that has to be kept out of the wrong hands—is a lazy MacGuffin even by blockbuster standards. The primary villains are a duo of shapeshifting aliens played by Les Twins, a pair of French identical twin dancers, but the brothers’ remarkable physicality is barely used.

Things come slightly to life with the late addition of a tiny alien sidekick, voiced by Kumail Nanjiani. And the movie finally attains the correct level of zaniness when Rebecca Ferguson enters the story as Hemsworth’s three-armed extra-terrestrial ex. By playing it utterly straight, Ferguson makes the whole ridiculousness of this thing hum along briskly.

But by that point, we’re barely keeping our eyes open. The chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson—so evident in Ragnarok—is still there, but there’s too much clutter along the way. The further away the pair travels from boring MIB headquarters, the better the movie gets, but it takes its sweet time getting there. Maybe for the fifth Men in Black movie, the pair can go rogue and bounce around a series of exotic international locales, with Ferguson and Nanjiani in tow. Whatever does happen in the next Men in Black, I’m pretty sure that by that point, we’ll have forgotten about this one.

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