“The world’s not going to save itself.“
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson
Men in Black was a science-fiction action comedy, made on a modest budget, which became a huge sleeper hit in 1997. Pairing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K, the newest and oldest field agents for the Men in Black, a secret organisation which polices alien activity on Earth, which is run as a neutral port for galactic refugees and travellers. The combination of Jones’ assured presence and the meteoric rising star of Smith – this was the role, coupled with 1996’s Independence Day, that catapulted him from surprisingly solid rapper and TV actor turned support player to bona fide superstar – with a sharp script and pacy, gonzo plot about a giant cockroach trying to steal the ultimate energy source produced a real standout of nineties SF cinema, and spawned two sequels of… less outstanding quality.
In 2002, Men in Black II spent a chunk of its runtime undoing the ending of the first movie for the sake of the magic pairing of Smith and Jones, and replaces the pathetically terrifying prospect of an impossibly tough and powerful insect in a rotting Vincent d’Onofrio suit with an alien disguised as an underwear model and trows in some unnecessary backstory and a bunch of poop and boob gags for good measure. It… wasn’t good.
It was to be another ten years before 2012’s Men in Black 3 added time travel and fourth-wall breaking to the mix, and threw in some more unnecessary back story as an alien supercriminal tried to pre-murder K. By this point the shine was definitely off, and as good as Smith and Jones are, they really didn’t seem to give a shit anymore.
Calls for another sequel were virtually non-existent, but the franchise had just enough juice left for another run to be considered worthwhile. With Smith and Jones unwilling, unavailable, or just because the response to MIB 3 was so disappointing, the studio opted for a soft reboot that would expand the franchise to an international stage and be called… Men in Black International.
The Soft Reboot
In 1996, Molly Wright meets an alien, and sees her parents neuralised by the MIB. Twenty years later, Agents H (Hemsworth) and High T (Neeson) face an attempted invasion by an alien force called the Hive at the gateway to (Tomorrowland) at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Three years after that, Molly (Thompson), having failed to get the FBI or the CIA to recruit her to ‘the department that deals with up there,’ finally manages to track down the MIB in New York, where Agent O (other Thompson) recruits her as a probationary agent with the designation ‘M’.Continue reading REBOURNE: Men in Black International (2019)