Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writer: Etan Cohen, Lowell Cunningham (Malibu Comic)
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Jermaine Clement, Alice Eve, Michael Stuhlberg, Bill Hader
A foe from Agent K’s past escapes his Lunar prison and travels back in time to eliminate K. With Agent J being the only one with memories of K, he travels back in time to prevent his assassination and stop an alien invasion in the future.
Going in I wasn’t particularly excited for this latest addition to the Men in Black franchise. The reason being just how poor Men in Black II was. That film left a bad taste in my mouth and is part of the reason why it’s been ten years in between two and three. So what could this film amount to a decade later with this being Will Smith’s first film since 2008? Well, a pretty solid film, actually.
One of the biggest concerns about this film leading up to its release for me was troubling word about the film’s script. Men in Black II ended up just being a rehash of the first film, except with the roles reversed between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, which didn’t work for me. After the first film and Will Smith’s filmography to date at that point in time, it was odd having to see him play the straight man to Jones who basically amounted to a less goofy version of Agent J from the first film. So when I’m coming out of this movie saying that this film’s script was its strongest point, that’s something.
Now I’m not saying it’s without its fair share of faults, but it is up there with being as good as the first film and leagues above the second film. Assuming this is the last film in the series—who knows, they could do a reboot with new agents with the whole neurolizer thing—the script does a good job of wrapping up the story of MIB Agents K and J. It probably holds the most emotional impact of the three films, but it’s much in the same way of why Toy Story 3 was so emotional for fans. We’ve seen these two characters through three films now and through the kinds of adventures they’ve been on, and the way it’s all tied together with the story of MIB 3 gets to you as an audience member.
Like I said earlier though, the script isn’t without any faults. The strength of the script and its story is the time travel in this movie; it’s used in a way to give a refreshing take of K’s character. But the same time the time travel winds up being a double-edged sword. Because of how it’s worked into the movie and how they tie everything together, I found myself piecing together all the clues and allusions that were being thrown out during the course of the movie. As fun as it was for me to do this during the film, it also proved to be a bit of a spoiler as all my predictions as to what happens in the end were proved right. Because of that, the ending felt incredibly predictable, but it still had the emotional impact it was aiming for. Some people may be bugged at how predictable it became towards the end, but hey, it’s a Men in Black film.
But the script and story are only as good as the actors that carry it for the entire movie and the trio of Smith, Jones and Brolin bring it. Smith and Jones are probably one of the most iconic film duos of the last twenty years thanks to Men in Black, so breaking them up for a good portion of the film was a bit of a risque move on the part of writer. Tommy Lee Jones has one of those distinct voices and having someone portray a younger version of him would be incredibly difficult, but kudos to the casting director for casting Josh Brolin in the role. Brolin absolutely nailed down Jones’ distinct voice and mannerisms to completely present himself as a younger K and it’s an amazing performance.
Smith on the other hand brings his usual charm and charisma to the screen in reprising his role as Agent J. Despite being an agent of MIB for the past fourteen years, he hasn’t changed much at all—save for his chronological age. The typical brand of Will Smith humour is here and a majority of the jokes hit their mark. There were a couple that were hit and miss, but overall the film is about as funny as the previous two entries. Tommy Lee Jones, on the other hand, I can’t really say much about because he’s only in the movie for a short while. When he is on screen he’s vintage Jones as Agent K, but the real Agent K of the film is played by Brolin.
Beyond them were two other stand out performances for me: Jermaine Clement as Boris the Animal and Michael Stuhlburg as Griffin. Both of them are great with what their given. Clement cemented himself as my favourite villain of the three films with a nice balance of being both humorous and silly, while Stuhlburg was just a scene stealer whenever he appeared on screen. Both of them give highly entertaining performances.
The same really can’t be said of the film’s female supporting cast though, which is a shame. Probably the actress I’m most disappointed in is Emma Thompson, who I thought was going to play a bigger role, but sadly she doesn’t. She has one really great moment in the film, but she’s barely in the movie overall. Alice Eve and Nicole Scherzinger are just throwaways—especially in Sherzinger’s case—so they just felt like wasted talent.
Lastly, the one big thing holding back this film from getting a higher rating was a lack of wow factor for me. Even in 3D there was only one sequence in the film that I felt took advantage of the technology, which was the time jump. Every other action set piece was just alright or just fell flat and didn’t impress.
Overall, the film is solid as a whole—if not predictable—but it winds up as a good film to wrap up the series and the story of MIB agents K and J.
GO Rating: 3/5