REVIEW: ‘Men In Black: International’ and the universe’s meaning
Men in Black: International (PG-13) is a movie children will want to watch, but it has a few problems that may concern some parents.
Molly is a young, determined woman who has one goal in life—to fight bad aliens within the secretive Men in Black organization.
Her passion began as a young girl when she saw an alien. She even saw the MIB agents, who erased her parents’ memories but failed to erase her memory.
But so far, no one will acknowledge the Men in Black even exist.
That’s OK, though, because she has a plan. She’ll hack the Hubble Space Telescope, track alien objects heading toward Earth, and then find them when they land on our planet. Then, perhaps, she’ll watch the Men in Black workers capture the alien at that specific location before the evidence is erased.
Incredibly, her plans works. She spots an alien and then finds it on Earth. She then follows the MIB vehicles back to an obscure building, where she boards an elevator before being captured for trespassing.
“It took me 20 years to find you,” she tells the employees.
She quickly wins over the head of MIB, Agent O. Molly says she’s smart and motivated. She also tells her she wants to discover the “truth of the universe.”
“I want to know everything. I want to know how it all works,” she says.
Agent O lets Molly into the MIB on a probationary period. Molly is given the famous black suit and the ultra-cool black sunglasses. Most of all, she’s given a title: Agent M.
Men in Black: International (PG-13) opens in theaters this weekend, telling the story of Agent M as she is paired with Agent H to help keep peace on Earth. It stars Tessa Thompson (Creed series, Avengers: Endgame) as Agent M, Chris Hemsworth (Avengers and Thor series) as Agent H, Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) as Agent O and Liam Neeson as Agent High T.
The plot follows Agents M and H as they travel to Marrakesh, Morocco, to meet up with a friendly alien. But when he gets killed, they learn that two evil aliens (they’re twins) are hunting for the most powerful weapon on the planet—a gun that can kill everyone and destroy Earth. They also discover the Men in Black organization has been infiltrated by a mole who is working with the evil twins. But who is it?
Men In Black: International is the fourth film in the Men In Black series, following Men In Black 1 (1997), 2 (2002) and 3 (2012).
Its three predecessors featured Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, two actors who had near-perfect chemistry and timing. Thompson and Hemsworth don’t rise to the Smith-Jones level, but they’re still quite entertaining and funny.
All four Men in Blacks feature two basic elements: the hunt for bad aliens and the use of “neuralyzers” to erase the memories of people who see aliens.
Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!
(Scale key: none, minimal, moderate, extreme)
Moderate. Much of the film includes tame-looking aliens like the ones in the Star Wars bar scene from 1977. But the film has a few alien scenes that might disturb kids—including the twin “bad guy” aliens that look like evil spirits before they steal a man’s identity (This results in the man’s body falling to the ground in a puddle of mush). Although they look human, their eyes occasionally light up. The film has multiple laser gun fights between our two heroic agents and the alien twins. Cars blow up. Roads are destroyed. Buildings crumble. We see a street race with a futuristic bike. We also see a fisticuff fight between two men and two women. Still, the movie has less violence than found in most Marvel films.
Minimal/moderate. We see Agent H wake up in a bed with a female alien who is still asleep (She’s covered; he’s shirtless. It’s implied he slept with her as part of a deal to obtain an anecdote for a snake bite). We hear several jokes about appearance and sex (An alien says about Agent H’s looks: “He’s so yummy.” Agent M is told an alien thinks she’s “hot.” We hear a lame joke about how “it” is done between humans and aliens. We hear the words “sexual,” “fetish” and “fornicating”). A club scene includes a few belly-revealing shirts.
Moderate. Misuse of “God” (7), h-ll (4), OMG (2), d–n (2), a– (2), d–ck (2), p—ed (2), s–t (3), “a–clown” (2), jack— (1).
Other Positive Elements
Molly comes from an intact, loving family (We see her parents early in the film).
Other Stuff You Might Want To Know
Agent H drinks and gambles as part of an undercover operation. Agents H and M discuss the importance of lying in order to accomplish their mission (They agree it’s essential).
Yes, love is important: For much of the film. Molly (Agent M) argues that love and romance will only “distract you from what’s important.” She even says “physical attraction is nothing more than chemical reactions in your brain.” She never finds romance in the film, but Agent H seems to get the upper hand when they have an intellectual conversation about love.
Lying is wrong: In the real world, ethics classes often debate whether lying is ever permissible (“If you were hiding soldiers in Nazi Germany and soldiers came to the door, what would you say?”). Agents M and H tell us lying is essential, but their lies rarely rise to that Nazi Germany-question level.
Honor the dead by living your life: That’s what the tiny alien Pawny does when a friend dies. “The best way to honor the dead is to go on living.” It sounds like a throwaway line, but it carries a lot of truth.
Rivals can become friends: That’s what happens between two key characters by the end of the film.
Men In Black: International is a comedy with an evolutionary/pantheistic framework.
“The universe has a way of leading you to where you’re supposed to be at the moment you’re supposed to be there,” Agent High T says.
When Agent M argues that romance is just a “chemical reaction,” Agent H retorts: “Isn’t the whole universe a chemical reaction? … It feels pretty real.”
We see a young Molly reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. As an adult, she’s searching for the “truth of the universe.” Yet she doesn’t find it.
No doubt, the universe and even our bodies are comprised of chemicals, but those chemicals came from somewhere. The Bible tells us they’re from an all-powerful, loving God who is controlling them. Besides, we’re not just chemicals. We have a soul, too.
The aliens. They’re tame enough for younger audiences (If only the dialogue were, too).
Men in Black: International isn’t awful. But it’s not great, either. Maybe the sequel will be better. Or maybe three Men in Black movies was enough.
1. Is it ever OK to lie?
2. Is love just a “chemical reaction”?
3. Can the universe “guide” us?
4. What does it require for enemies to become friends?
Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material.
PHOTO CREDIT: Columbia