STARRING: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh
Brolin, Emma Thompson, Jemaine Clement
2012, 106 Minutes, Directed by:
been a decade since Men in Black 2, one of those sequels
that has largely been forgotten. (See – or rather, don’t see – movies like
The Fly 2 or Ghostbusters 2.)
Men in Black 3 is an attempt
to resuscitate the series by focusing on what made the 1997 original fun, namely
the relationship between veteran agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and newcomer agent J
(Will Smith) as they track down rogue aliens on Earth.
Interestingly, Jones is barely
in the film appearing in just a few scenes at the beginning and then at the end.
What makes the film work is a marvelous performance by Josh Brolin as a younger
1969 version of K. The burden was on him to make us believe that he would turn
into the already established character created by another actor, and he joins
the pantheon of Robert DeNiro (as Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II)
and Ewan McGregor (as Obi-wan Kenobi in the otherwise unwatchable
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) in pulling off this
The story begins in the present
where Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes from prison. He is an ugly and
dangerous alien thanks to make up wizard Rick Baker’s creative special effects.
Boris plans to return to 1969 – when K shot off his arm and defeated him – to
change history. When K disappears from the present, J goes back to 1969 to try
to set things right.
"It won’t change your life. . ."
As befits a summer popcorn
movie one isn’t expected to take the proceedings too seriously.
When the agents show up at The
Factory to confront artist/impresario Andy Warhol (Bill Hader) we know that
we’re going to have fun with this Back to the Future
ride to the ‘60s. Consider this Men in Black meets Mad
Men. At one point J is pulled over by two racist cops who believe that a
black man in a flashy car must have stolen it. He points out that that isn’t the
case – except that in the instant case he has stolen the car although he intends
to return it. There are also some fun references to things as varied as the New
York Mets, Apollo 11, and various retro technologies.
Smith and Brolin build up a
nice rapport, neatly mirroring the Smith/Jones relationship in the earlier
films. Rip Torn (who played agency head Z) is missed, although the agency is now
run by Agent O, played nicely by Emma Thompson. Although this is not deep dish
science fiction, the four (!) screenwriters let the time travel paradoxes play
themselves out, helped by the character of Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), who has
the ability to see various probabilities of the future.
Men in Black 3 has
laughs, thrills, special effects, and some entertaining by-play with Smith and
Brolin. It won’t change your life nor will it boggle you with its concepts.
However if you let it, this is a movie prepared to entertain. If you’re
expecting any more from an early summer season blockbuster then you’re going to
be disappointed . . .