Mind eraser

Men in Black reboot goes nowhere

Starring Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth and Emma Thompson. Directed by F. Gary Gray. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas. Rated PG-13.
Rated 2.0

Men in Black: International is a wasted opportunity, an admirable attempt to restart things with a new cast that misses most of its marks.

Replacing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, playing Agents H and M, respectively. H is the bold, brash, superhot agent who, along with Agent High T (Liam Neeson) of the London MIB branch, saved the world from an evil alien force called the Hive.

M is a new recruit, having found MIB’s secret headquarters after years of searching. As a child, M witnessed an alien encounter (and saw her parents getting their minds erased by MIB agents), which sparked a curiosity that leads her to Agent O (Emma Thompson), who gives her a chance to help save the world as a probationary agent.

Tessa Thompson is great in anything she does, including this. She brings a fun energy to the role, plus a slight wiseass edge. Hemsworth is a performer who seems to like himself a little too much, but still manages to be likeable. The two proved they worked well together in Thor: Ragnarok, and while it is fun to see them sharing the screen again, it’s a little baffling what the script puts them through.

Matt Holloway and Art Marcum, two of the many writers on the original Iron Man, take a hack at sending the duo on a global adventure. After a fairly strong start, the action, presented by director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton), devolves sloppily into boredom. Each passing location—Paris, Italy, Marrakesh—takes the story nowhere, and scenery changes serve only to disguise the fact that the film has no purpose.

A “mole in MIB” subplot doesn’t add much mystery, and the finale in Paris (after an opening in Paris) offers few surprises and no thrills. The movie ends with a big “Huh?”

The special effects are pretty good, with a few new aliens, most notably a little one named Pawny (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani), bringing sporadic fun. I also got a kick out of a mini alien posing as a beard on some dude’s face.

This project was originally supposed to be a crossover with the Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum 21 Jump Street franchise. I’m guessing Warner Bros. soured on the notion of turning MIB into too much of a comedy, figuring they could reboot and regenerate revenue on the franchise by staying within its own established universe. They figured wrong. A Men in Black comedy with Hill and Tatum would’ve had tons of potential. This one is a dud.

Between Men in Black, Godzilla and Dark Phoenix, the big-budget franchises have so far been a disappointment this summer movie season.