(On Cable TV, December 2019) As much as it pains me as a movie critic to recognize that someone else (I forget who) said it best, the biggest problem with Men in Black: International is that it takes a blue-collar premise and tries to make it glamorous globetrotting. This shouldn’t be much of a revelation—after all, much of the humour of the first film boiled down to the sight of two policemen being confronted to the hidden wonders of the universe and taking a decidedly jaded approach to it all. The sequels faltered when they went too big, and Men in Black: International again stumbles when it expands the mythology of the series into international espionage intrigue—this is not what the series is about, and the laughs get increasingly distant the more you get away from the initial core idea. I’ll give it one thing, though: the absence of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones isn’t that big of a deal when they’re replaced by Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. (Regular readers of these reviews know how much I like Thompson, so I won’t dwell on it again. Much.) The decision to take the series out of New York City to a country-hopping series of episodes isn’t as compelling, though, and ties into the film losing the focus of the series. None of this would necessarily be fatal if the execution had been up to par, but unfortunately it isn’t—the plot is basic by espionage standards (since that’s the standard that the film is going for) and the identity of the mole being hunted throughout the film is absurdly, insultingly easy to guess well ahead of time. The jokes frequently fall flat, and even the magnetic charm of the lead actors can’t save the film from falling flat. There’s quite a bit of dashed expectations here—the series was uneven—but even low expectations wouldn’t have saved Men in Black: International from the constant disappointment of the film being unable to make good use of its potential. Some behind-the-scenes drama may explain the dismal result (through a bad case of producer interference) but the damage is done and doesn’t care about production problems: the film as available is more forgettable than anything else once you throw in the lead actors and that’s a clear step down from even the divisive second and third instalments. Save the world, stop the sequels.