Men in Black: International

Men in Black: International (stylized as MIB: International in promotional material) is a 2019 American science fiction action comedy film directed by F. Gary Gray and written by the writing team of Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. It is the fourth and final installment in the Men in Black film series, based on the Marvel Comics series of a similar name, in turn based on the conspiracy theory. It serves as a stand-alone sequel set in the same universe as the previous films, but is the first film in the series to not feature Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones as the main characters.[6]

Men in Black: International
Theatrical release poster
Directed byF. Gary Gray
Written byArt Marcum
Matt Holloway
Based on
The Men in Black
Produced by
CinematographyStuart Dryburgh
Edited by
Music by
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing[1]
Release dates
  • June 11, 2019 (2019-06-11) (New York City)
  • June 14, 2019 (2019-06-14) (United States)
Running time
115 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$94–110 million[4]
Box office$253.9 million[5]

It stars Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, and Liam Neeson. Emma Thompson reprises her role from the third film, while Tim Blaney returns to voice Frank the Pug from the first two installments. The film follows the Men in Black taking on its biggest threat: a mole in the agency.

Talks of a fourth Men in Black film began after the release of Men in Black 3 in 2012. In February 2018, Hemsworth signed on to lead a spin-off, Gray was hired to direct, and Thompson joined the cast the following month. Filming took place in New York City, Morocco, Italy and London from July to October 2018. Danny Elfman, who had scored the previous three installments, returned to compose the reboot with Chris Bacon.

Men in Black: International was produced by Columbia Pictures in association with Tencent Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and Parkes+MacDonald Image Nation, and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. It is loosely based on the Malibu/Marvel comic book series of the same name by Lowell Cunningham, and was theatrically released in the United States on June 14, 2019.

Marred by significant production strife between producer Walter F. Parkes and director Gray, the film received generally negative reviews from critics, who criticized the "lackluster action and forgettable plot",[7] and was a financial disappointment, grossing $253.9 million worldwide against a $94–110 million production budget.

Plot edit

In 1996 Brooklyn, Molly Wright witnesses her parents being neuralyzed by agents of Men in Black after they see an alien in their home. Molly helps the alien escape, avoiding neuralyzation herself. Twenty-three years later, rejected from government agencies due to her "delusions" regarding alien life, Molly tracks down an alien landing and follows MIB agents to their headquarters in New York City. Caught entering the agency, Molly makes an impression on Agent O after revealing she had bypassed neuralyzation, arguing that her obsessive search for them makes her 'perfect' for the job and she has no life outside her search for the agency. She is awarded probationary agent status as "Agent M" and assigned to the organization's London branch.

There, M meets High T, head of the London branch, and Agent H. M learns that H and T fought off an invasion of the Hive, a parasitic race who invade planets by merging with the DNA of the conquered species, at the Eiffel Tower in 2016, using a wormhole included in the original migration to Earth. H has since become unconcerned with his duties and only keeping his job due to High T covering for him. M arranges for herself to be assigned to assist H in his meeting with alien royalty Vungus the Ugly, H's close friend.

During their night out with Vungus, they are accosted by mysterious alien Twins able to manifest as pure energy. The Twins fatally injure Vungus, who gives M a strange crystal before he dies, claiming that H has changed since they last met and cannot be trusted. M points out that few people knew Vungus' location, and he was likely betrayed by one of the agents present when High T assigned H to guard him. Nervous at the possibility of a traitor within MiB, High T assigns Agents C and M to investigate while H is demoted to desk duty, with evidence suggesting that the Twins had DNA traces of the Hive.

H convinces M to join him in following a lead to Marrakesh, where they recover "Pawny", the last survivor of a small group of aliens attacked by the Twins. Pawny pledges loyalty to M, and they are trapped by MiB agents coordinated by C, who recovered video footage of Vungus passing the crystal to M and believes she is the traitor. With the aid of alien contacts Nasr and Bassam, H escapes with M and Pawny on a rocket-powered bike, and they learn that Vungus' crystal is a weapon powered by a compressed blue giant. As they repair the damaged bike, Bassam steals the weapon and takes it to H's ex girlfriend Riza Stavros, an alien arms dealer. Traveling to Riza's island fortress, the trio attempts to infiltrate the base, but is caught by Riza and her bodyguard Luca Brasi. Luca, the alien M rescued as a child, returns the favor by allowing them to leave with the weapon while he keeps Riza contained. The three are cornered by the Twins, who are killed by High T and a group of agents.

Although the case appears concluded, H and M review the evidence and realize that the Twins' phrases suggest they required the weapon to use against the Hive, especially when the only evidence of Hive DNA was provided by High T. They discover High T has deleted the case file and not sent the weapon to evidence, and has gone to the Eiffel Tower with the weapon. C also realizes High T's deception and allows H and M to follow High T to the Eiffel Tower. As they travel to the reopened wormhole, M's questioning of H's memory of the Hive's defeat reveals he was neuralyzed when the Hive converted T into one of their own during the battle. The High T/Hive hybrid activates a wormhole to draw the Hive to Earth, but H draws out High T's true personality long enough for M, with the help of Pawny, to use the weapon at full capacity to destroy both the hybrid and the Hive infestation trying to reach Earth.

With the truth of T's conversion exposed, Agent O joins H and M in Paris, where she grants M full agent status and appoints H probationary head of MiB's London branch.

Cast edit

  • Chris Hemsworth as Henry / Agent H, a top agent in the MIB UK branch
  • Tessa Thompson as Molly Wright / Agent M, a rookie MIB recruit assigned to the UK branch
    • Mandeiya Flory as Young Molly
  • Liam Neeson as High T, the head of the MIB UK branch
  • Kumail Nanjiani (voice) as Pawny, a tiny alien warrior that H and M befriend
  • Rafe Spall as Agent C, a senior MIB agent in the UK branch who is skeptical of H's past
  • Rebecca Ferguson as Riza Stavros, an alien intergalactic arms dealer and H's ex-girlfriend
  • Les Twins as the Twins, a shape-shifting alien duo seeking a dangerous artifact
    • Larry Bourgeois also portrays the human that the Twins kill and base their appearance on
  • Emma Thompson as Agent O, the head of the MIB US branch who operates out of New York
  • Kayvan Novak as Vungus the Ugly, a member of an alien royal family and friend of H
    • Kayvan Novak also portrays Nasr and voices Bassam
  • Annie Burkin as Nerlene
  • Tim Blaney as Frank the Pug (voice)
  • Spencer Wilding as Luca Brasi, an alien mobster who acts as personal bodyguard to Riza Stavros
  • Marcy Harriell and Inny Clemons cameo as Molly's parents in a flashback
  • Thom Fountain and Drew Massey as the Worm Guys (voices), worm-like aliens that work for MIB
  • Stephen Wight as Guy / Stupid guy in a call center next to Molly

Production edit

Development and casting edit

In February 2018, it was reported that Chris Hemsworth would star in the film, set to be directed by F. Gary Gray.[8] The following month, Tessa Thompson joined the cast.[9] In May 2018, it was reported that Liam Neeson was in talks to star as the head of the agency's UK branch.[10] The film was written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway and produced by Laurie MacDonald and Walter Parkes.[11] In June 2018, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall and Les Twins (Laurent and Larry Bourgeois) were added to the cast.[12][13] Danny Elfman, who scored the first three Men in Black films, returned to compose the score with Chris Bacon.[14] Steven Spielberg executive-produced, as he did for the first three MIB entries, along with Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed all the previous films.

Filming edit

The Aragonese Castle in Ischia was one of the filming locations

Principal photography began on July 9, 2018 at Leavesden Studios and on location in London, and continued in Marrakesh at the Jemaa el-Fnaa and El Badi Palace, Ischia and the Aragonese Castle, and New York City.[15][16][17][18] Later that month, it was announced that Emma Thompson would reprise her role as Agent O.[19] In August 2018, Rebecca Ferguson joined the cast.[20] On October 17, Hemsworth confirmed that filming had wrapped.[21]The vehicles used in the film were: the Lexus RC F and the Jaguar XJ 6 and the Rezvani Tank [22][23]

Visual effects edit

Visual effects were provided by Double Negative, and supervised by Alessandro Ongaro with the help of Rodeo FX, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Method Studios.[24]

Producer/director clash edit

The film experienced a troubled production due to frequent clashes between director Gray, and producer Parkes, which began when the executive overseeing the project, Sony Executive Vice President of Production David Beaubaire, left the studio in the summer of 2018 and was not replaced.

An early draft of the script, which Sony initially praised, and which received the attention of stars Hemsworth and Thompson, had an edgier tone than the finished film, featuring sociopolitical commentary on the current debate surrounding immigration. The main antagonists were to be an alien music group inspired by the Beatles, with the four members merging into one villain during the climax.

Parkes, who had final cut on the film, had a heavy hand in overseeing rewrites during pre-production and filming, which he and MacDonald claimed were necessary because of the small prep time. The rewrites largely dealt with production/budget constraints (including changing several major locations), punch-ups for the actors, and reconceiving the villains. His new script pages stripped away the early draft's modern sensibilities, and were sent daily to Hemsworth and Thompson, who were both so confused that they hired their own dialogue writers. Parkes also stepped into traditional directing duties, although the Directors Guild of America did not get involved. Parkes and Gray also clashed over the color-correction process in post-production.

Gray tried to exit the production several times but was convinced to stay by Sony. The studio tested two cuts—one by Gray, the other by Parkes—and Parkes' was chosen as the theatrical cut.[25]

Release edit

Theatrical edit

The film was scheduled for theatrical release on May 17, 2019,[26] but was pushed forward to June 14.[11] It premiered in New York City on June 11, 2019.[27]

Marketing edit

Deadline Hollywood estimated that Sony would spend around $120 million on prints and advertising for the film, a figure considered on the "lower end" for a tentpole feature.[4] They also partnered with several companies to promote it, including Lexus, Hamilton Watches, Zaxby's, Dave & Buster's and, for about estimated $75 million worth of advertising.[28]

Lexus partnered with Sony Pictures to feature their vehicles in the film: the RC and RX, both in their F Sport variants. They also designed an alien-looking spaceship based on the body of their RC model.[29]

Home media edit

The film was released on Digital HD on August 20, 2019, and on Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD on September 3, 2019 in the United States.[30]

Reception edit

Box office edit

Men in Black: International cost $94–110 million to make plus another estimated $120 million for marketing in addition to ancillary market expenses. It was estimated that it would need to gross $220–300 million worldwide to break even.[4][31] It grossed $80 million in the United States and Canada, and $173.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $253.9 million, or just about break-even.[5]

In the United States and Canada, it was released alongside Shaft and the wide expansion of Late Night, and was projected to gross $30–40 million from 4,224 theaters in its opening weekend.[32] It made $10.4 million on its first day, including $3.1 million from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $30 million,[33] topping the weekend box office but coming in below expectations, and making it the first film in the series not to open above $50 million.[34][35][36] The underwhelming opening was blamed on the dated franchise, poor critical reviews and audience anticipation for other, upcoming big releases Toy Story 4 and Spider-Man: Far From Home.[4] The film fell 64% in its second weekend to $10.7 million, finishing fourth, then made $6.7 million in its third weekend, finishing sixth.[37][38]

Worldwide, it was released concurrently with the United States in 56 additional countries and was projected to gross $70–85 million, for a worldwide debut of $100–115 million.[39] It ended up making $73.7 million overseas and $102.2 million globally, finishing first in 36 of the markets. It underperformed in Asian countries like China ($26.3 million) and South Korea ($4.9 million) due to poor word-of-mouth, similar to the United States, although it finished first in Mexico ($3.9 million), Brazil ($1.8 million), Russia ($5.1 million), the United Kingdom ($3.4 million), Australia ($2.6 million) and France ($2.5 million).[40]

Critical response edit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 23% based on 322 reviews, with an average rating of 4.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Amiable yet forgettable, MIB International grinds its stars' substantial chemistry through the gears of a franchise running low on reasons to continue."[41] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 38 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[42] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, the lowest score of the franchise, while those at PostTrak gave it a 72% overall positive score and a 46% "definite recommend".[4]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called it "Men in Black, making another intensely tiresome and pointless reappearance," and gave the film 1 out of 5 stars.[43] Peter DeBruge of Variety said that "The connection between Tessa Thompson and Hemsworth is what saves the day, not anything their characters do onscreen" and called the film itself "amusing, if uneven."[44] Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars, writing: "Men in Black: International isn't bad; it's an improvement over Men in Black II (2002) and Men in Black 3 (2012), sequels that even its makers may have forgotten. As a species we appear destined to revisit this basic concept and renew the hunt for fresh variations on the zingy, disarming first picture, which brought the Lowell Cunningham comics to the screen so shrewdly and well in 1997."[45]

References edit

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External links edit