The fourth installment in the comic sci-fi series struggles to make a case for its existence

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A joyless, rudderless continuation of a series that lived and died with its stars, "Men in Black: International" is, if anything, a win for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, since they're nowhere near this clunker. 

In their place we get a reunion of "Thor: Ragnarok" stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, for everyone who was longing for a "Thor: Ragnarok" reunion. In first-initial-only "Men in Black" style, they play H&M, and we'll leave the jokes about high fashion at cheap prices to you.   

Hemsworth and Thompson do both look great in their custom-issue "Men in Black" attire, so the film gets style points. Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson also show up in sleek, black "MIB" get-up, and if the film was just a series of scenes of the actors parading in their cool clothes, it would be better off. 

Instead there's an overly convoluted story about aliens, high-powered weapons, world takeovers, double crosses and all the other elements screenwriters throw at special effects extravaganzas to make them seem like more than mere special effects extravaganzas. They'd be better off investing in characters and telling a believable story, but "MIBI" is nostalgia and CGI posing as a feature, with a few 2019 references — why not Women in Black, the female characters argue — thrown in for good measure.  

Kumail Nanjiani voices a pocket-sized alien creature named Pawny, who tags along with H&M on an adventure that takes them to Morocco to battle an alien arms dealer. Pawny has some bad lines, but he's spared true groaners like when H asks M, "you've never abandoned logic for passion?" One of those memory-erasing flashes would be nice right about now, please. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Men in Black: International'

GRADE: D

Rated PG-13: for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material

Running time: 115 minutes

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