Men In Black 3 resumes the adventures of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). The original Men in Black serves to introduce Agent J’s recruitment into the titular organization. In the movie’s sequel, Men In Black 2, we have a lesser story involving a mystical artifact around which the heart of a whole civilization is built.
In this third installment, Men in Black 3 begins in a lunar prison where we’re introduced to a one-armed alien fugitive named Boris “The Animal,” played by Jemaine Clement (The Flight of the Conchords), with a grudge against K. After a dynamic escape in which the audience gets a clear picture of why Boris is dubbed “The Animal,” we rejoin our heroes Agent J and Agent K trying to cover up a UFO landing.
Despite their fourteen years working together, the two lead characters continue to have a frosty relationship, with little to no productive communication. This upsets J and after K makes an attempt to connect with his partner through a late night phone call, everything changes. In the midst of Agents J and K trying to repair their interpersonal relationship, Men In Black 3’s resident villain, Boris, has found a way to go back in time to seek revenge on a younger Agent K, and save his missing arm to boot. The effects are far reaching as K was responsible for installing a defense system that protects the Earth from an alien attack. J wakes up in a completely different world, in which K has been gone for forty years and the planet is under attack from invading forces. If you have seen the Men In Black 3 trailer, you know where this is going.
Using a time-travel device from the same source that enables Boris’s time travel, J travels back to the year 1969 to attempt to prevent his partner’s death. In trying to retrace Boris’ steps, J encounters a young Agent K (Josh Brolin), and the adventure begins.
As an audience, we are treated to a snapshot of the late 1960s, including a visit with Andy Warhol (in actuality, an MIB agent, Agent W), Shea Stadium and the Miracle Mets, and most notably, a climactic showdown involving the launch of the Apollo 11 lunar module in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
One of the hallmarks throughout the Men In Black franchise has been the chemistry between the two lead characters, played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Men In Black 3 is no different, with the banter between Agents J and K and their clashing personalities as on-point as ever. Even when J goes back to 1969, the chemistry between Will Smith and Josh Brolin does not miss a beat. Other Men in Black staples, such as the recurring gag of Agent J trying to explain some absurdity like a UFO or a giant alien fish to passersby prior to them being “neuralyzed” (the neuralyzer: a handheld device that erases memories of the uninitiated), are some of the better laughs in Men In Black 3. Even though most of the action is set around J and K, keep an eye open for Bill Hader’s unforgettable scene as Agent W.
Unlike the previous two Men In Black films, Men In Black 3 provides a few sincere moments, portraying a story about friendship between its co-stars. And after all, J and K are characters that most audiences have known for fourteen years, themselves. These moments have a level of heart which can come off as a bit corny, but after three movies together it seems to work. As expected with any summer blockbuster worth its salt, Men In Black 3 has the requisite special effects and explosions. The story also has a nice flow and never seems to drag on.
The problems with Men In Black 3 are clearer cut. Outside of the three lead characters, the majority of the cast has very little to do. When Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, or Josh Brolin is not on screen, Men In Black 3 tends to run flat. Fortunately, there are only a handful of scenes without any of the three stars. In the pantheon of villains throughout the Men In Black franchise, Boris is perhaps the weakest of the bunch. He has little more than a cliché vendetta against one of the film’s heroes. There is absolutely nothing else going on in Boris’ head. The endgame for Men in Black’s villains has always been to destroy the Earth, but this time it seems almost too simple.
Looking back, the original Men In Black holds up well over time, and is clearly the best of the trilogy. Men In Black 2 had a few fun moments, but was ultimately an exercise in mediocrity. Men in Black 3 falls somewhere in- between the first two installments. It has many of the fun moments that made the first film so enjoyable, as well as some of the flaws of the previous sequel.
Men In Black 3 provides an entertaining experience for the audience, overall, with enough special effects and weird aliens to keep younger viewers interested. Additionally, there is enough nostalgia for MIB fans that transports back to 1997 (the year Men In Black was released).
The flaws in Men In Black 3 are evident and may sully the experience for those who prefer more depth. That said, you won’t want to be neuralyzed after this one.
“Men In Black 3” starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones & Josh Brolin
Rated PG-13. Runtime 105 min. Theatrical release 5/25/2012.
PR.com Rating: B-