Hemsworth and Thompson elevate the otherwise forgettable new Men In Bland
It has the ignoble honour of being the second best MiB movie.
We should have known there was something amiss when the movie's title was eventually announced.
Men In Black... International? Isn't an organisation that protects the entire Earth from the scum of the universe inherently international? Did we really need that spelled out for us?
Turns out it was spelling out the dumbing down of the franchise in general, replacing the weirdo sci-fi comedy of the 1997 original (we're neuralising the two sequels from our own minds) and leaning heavily into the action set-pieces instead.
If you think back to that original, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones drove around New York in a "Ford P.O.S." while fighting off Vincent D'Onfrio's insanely creepy Edgar The Bug. Seriously, D'Onfrio's performance in that movie needs to put into a museum.
For this rebootquel, Hemsworth and Thompson are equipped with a top-of-the-line Lexus, complete with Bond movie-level of sexy product placement lighting and angles, while they hunt down two members of the shape-shifting alien race The Hive, played by Laurent and Larry Burgeois, better known as Les Twins, last seen as back-up dancers for Beyonce during her Homecoming documentary.
Everything has been glazed over by a layer of shiny indifference, from the point-and-shoot direction by F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, Fast & Furious 8), and a screenplay from two guys who last delivered us Transformers: The Last Knight (the worst reviewed of the six movies in that franchise).
The only thing bright enough to poke a whole through this suffocating cloud of Meh In Black are the performances, with Hemsworth and Thompson displaying some of the same crackling fizz they provided in Thor: Ragnarok.
Another Thompson (Emma, not Tessa) pops up to remind us that even in nothing roles, she can steal entire scenes out from under everyone, while Liam Neeson also does his best with a role so transparent they might as well have a countdown under the words "Plot Twist" every time he shows up on screen.
They're all underserved by a mildly humourous but never actually funny script, with a plot that seems to go everywhere (New York! London! Paris! Marrakesh!) and nowhere at the same time. There's another thing that has the power to destroy the planet, and the MiB have to make sure it doesn't get into wrong hands and/or tentacles.
It is essentially the exact same plot we've seen three times before, but just with two different heroes in the iconic suits. The unfortunate thing is that there is still plenty of stories to tell within the MiB universe, perhaps even with Hemsworth and Thompson at the centre of them, but it will take better storytellers than this to make sure we remember them.
Men In Black: International is released in Irish cinemas from Friday 14 June.
Clip via Sony Pictures Entertainment