Smile Politely

Back in time

Men in Black 3 is what Men in Black 2 should have been. Men in Black 3 stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K, respectively, trying to continue to protect the earth from the scum of the universe.

In this entry in the series, an alien called Boris The Animal (Jermaine Clement) seeks revenge on Agent K for blowing off his arm with a freeze gun. After attempting to destroy Agent K in the present, Boris travels to 1969 to kill him and successfully complete an invasion that Agent K stopped before astronauts went to the moon.

When K doesn’t show up for work, Agent J realizes that something is wrong and learns that K was killed by Boris in 1969. J then goes back in time to prevent the death of his partner and save the Earth from an invasion by Boris’ people, the Boglodites, in the present.

Josh Brolin is very effective as the younger K in 1969. All of the mannerisms of Tommy Lee Jones’ characterization of Agent K are on display in Brolin’s performance, right down to Jones’ unique Texas speech pattern. It is something truly remarkable to witness. 

This film really shines through when it works to examine the friendship between Agents J and K. You can really tell that J puts a lot of effort into his relationship with K. K is also noticeably more sullen in this film and what I love most is that, unlike previous films, there is a concrete reason for why he is so incredibly emotionally void with J.

Barry Sonnenfield, who has directed the previous two entries in the series, shows that he is a solid action director. But his real skill is focusing on the emotions that his lead characters face. He failed at that miserably in Men in Black 2, where the only point of emotional resonance was Agent J’s unrequited romance with Laura Vasquez.

This movie was reported to have been filming without a fully finished script and, if that is to be believed, then what they achieved is nothing short of miraculous. My only problem with MIB3 is the amount of screen time given to Tommy Lee Jones’ past Agent K. I would have liked to have seen a few more interactions between Agents J and K in present day.

I think special mention for an important character in the film should go to Griffin, an alien with precognitive powers. Essentially, Griffin can see into the future and his power provides the film with most of its laughs. Additionally, I think the casting of Alice Eve and Emma Thompson as younger and older versions of new MIB chief Agent O is a stroke of genius because both actresses proved particularly adept at handling the film’s comic demands.

Men in Black 3 is a return to form for Smith, Jones, and Sonnenfield. I loved the action scenes and the look of New York in the 1960s when J arrives. Let’s hope that the MIB continue to protect the Earth again sooner, rather than later. Men in Black 3 was everything I wanted in a summer science fiction film.

Four Stars.

Men in Black 3 is now playing at Savoy 16 and Beverly Carmike Cinema.

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