Director: F. Gary Gray
Cast: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Kumail Nanjiani, Liam Neeson
Have I Seen it Before: While a new release, everything about this movie has been seen before.
Did I Like It: Not really, no.
And that’s okay. The movie’s heart is in the right place. Moving away from an American-centric version of the franchise both adds some flavor to the movie (and, cynically, increases its odds at a higher international box office). Making our protagonists a woman of color is a great choice, and Tessa Thompson continues her streak of being great, even if this movie isn’t doing her any favors.
And the fact that the movie surrounding her isn’t very good is kind of comforting. For years, any movie that has dared for any degree of increased representation was required to be good, or it would have been used as evidence that representation itself is flawed. That this movie underwhelms is not being used as evidence that films should continue to be as white and male as they possible can be.
I just wish it was funnier, you know? Chris Hemsworth has proven in recent years (especially when paired with the perfect comic partner like Tessa Thompson) to be the goofball the world needs right now, but here he is straightjacketed into a role not far removed from a warmed-over Han Solo. The plot is predictable to the point of being paint-by-numbers, and that has been forgiven in plenty of films, as long as it had been funnier.
Then again, the original three Will Smith starring films are only intermittently funny, so I suppose this movie lives up to its heritage. Maybe it just needed to come from stronger stock.
But, honestly? The fact that you enter the London MiB field office through an antique typewriter shop nearly flipped my review to be positive. So, it’s not completely without charm.