Caleb’s review published on Letterboxd:
Having never seen any of the Men in Black films in its entirety, I figured this might not be really for me but I honestly adore Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson enough to just see this one. Of course, I was entirely aware of its troubled production as there are numerous reports of infighting as to how the vision of this spin off would come together.
Under the direction of F. Gary Gray, known for Friday, Straight Outta Compton, and The Fate of the Furious, of which none of them I’ve seen. It was really hinging on Hemsworth and Thompson to make this worthwhile, and to their credit, they almost did. Whenever they’re onscreen together, it’s just gold and always a good time. Even then, one couldn’t help but think something’s missing throughout the film. The plot was so predictable but it’s not that I ask for every film to be unpredictable, but it could at least offer something for everyone. Certainly, this has some humorous moments, really cool creature design, but they never really stand out in the way you’d recommend the film to others anyway even if the whole thing doesn’t quite come together.
As I saw Liam Neeson, and though I acknowledge this is my first time with a Men in Black entry, I’ve seen enough bits and pieces to see what makes it work, and I thought Neeson would be a worthy addition to the series at least. I can safely say they managed to make Neeson boring, which is remarkable in itself as I always saw Neeson as a reliable performer who could always salvage horrid scripts. He looks as checked out as he’s ever been, and it was disheartening to see. Again, if I must recommend this film at all, just come with very modest expectations and look to Tessa Thompson who makes the whole thing honestly bearable and worthwhile.
Additionally, Pawny as voiced by Kumail Nanjiani is certainly one other bright spot, however felt underused.
The reports of a troubled production couldn’t be any clearer than this film. Plenty of plot holes, a pretty horrid script and just the overall tone just really set this back. If I were an executive, I’d want this to give new life to the franchise, but it’s simply what it is; a studio mandated film in which executives are so clearly out of touch, and never inject a sense of urgency.
I’ll be fair to this entry though, as I will definitely watch the original trilogy for the first time, and only then can I truly compare this spin off to others. So far, not too impressed. It’s not all bad, it just feels lifeless and doesn’t quite have a lot of heart, as much as Hemsworth and Thompson really give it their all. They couldn’t save this one.