Review: Men In Black 3

A full 10 years on after the second film, which was more than a little forgettable, comes the third installment of Men In Black, which is imaginatively titled Men In Black 3. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are reunited – albeit briefly – as Agents J and K, two senior members of the M.I.B., a secret government agency which is the last line of defence between us and all manner of extraterrestrial life threatening our planet.

The film opens with a breakout from a maximum security prison on the moon by a character who is all bristles and fingers (you’ll get it when you see it!) called Boris the Animal who, for some unexplained reason, insists on being called ‘just Boris’. He is also completely indistinguishable from the actor playing him, Jermaine Clement (of Flight Of The Conchords fame), who really tears up the scenery as this larger than life bad guy. The news of the breakout seems to change something about K, who becomes even more introverted than usual forcing a bigger wedge between himself and J. Before long K is found by Boris who kills him causing a rift in the fabric of time.

J is the only person now who believes that K was alive the previous night instead of the reality that now faces him: K was killed by Boris in 1969 and now the Earth is defenseless against the invasion about to be launched by his race, the ludicrously named Boglodites (Come on, Boris the Boglodite?!). So now J must travel back to 1969 to stop K being killed and avert the destruction of the planet.

Thus ensues some high jinks action involving all the kitch-ness of the 60s mixed with the futuristic design of the M.I.B. universe; with sleek sliver weapons and gadgets, and where the cars have one-wheeled motorbikes hidden under them, just in case. There is even a scene at one of Andy Warhol’s parties, Warhol here being an undercover M.I.B. agent, played by Bill Hader. Another thing that it looked like they were going to address is the question of race in the 60s; just before J time jumps he is warned that it was ‘difficult for your people back then’. But apart from a brief scene early on after his arrival this potentially interesting plot point is all but forgotten.

The young Agent K is played by Josh Brolin who does a tremendous impression of Tommy Lee Jones, and the interplay between Brolin and Smith is so much more dynamic than between Smith and Lee Jones. This is probably to do with the fact that brolin’s K hasn’t become Lee Jones’ K yet, but I suspect it may also be about how much the actors want the role. You get the feeling that Lee Jones is only in it for so little because he doesn’t want to be there, he doesn’t have the same twinkle in his eye that he did in the first film.

The most interesting character, though, had to be Griffin, a nerdy looking humanoid alien who sees all possible eventualities who is played by Michael Stuhlbarg. He is a nervous character who both helps and hinders J and K on their way to their goal of destroying Boris and launching the device that will prevent the invasion happening in the future.

The final showdown happens on the launch pad of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon and had an element of the opening fight scene of Casino Royale about it, with the protagonists fighting on the crane-like structures that hold the rocket in place. It all ends with a final confrontation which sees a military commander being shot and the origin of the story between J and K which was quite cleverly and emotionally handled by all. I have a thing where seeing Will Smith well up makes me want to cry too, because in a lot of his films he is the light-hearted comedy character, not to mention the guy you’re always rooting for.

In short; Men In Black 3 still hasn’t lived up to what made the first film such a success back in the 90s, but it’s going to stay with me a hell of a lot longer than the second. However, this is yet another trilogy that should stay as it is, no matter how much the actors need the pay cheque.

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