When notorious killer alien Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes from prison on the moon, he goes back in time to kill the agent that put him there; K (Tommy Lee Jones). When K is wiped from history, it is up to J (Will Smith) to go back in time and save his friend.
It has been 10 years since the last Men in Black movie (really? Wow, I feel old), and the question arises; why make another movie in this franchise now? The first film was incredibly successful – and a heck of a lot of fun – but the second failed to live up the highs of the first. Well, it seems that the third movie is not going to live up to the hype of the second. Actually, that is not completely fair, Men in Black 3 may not fulfil its promise, but it is not as terrible as it could have been.
Will Smith resumes his role as J, which basically means that he is playing himself. This works in the context of the film – even though it may be lazy acting and directing – as he is the opposite to his partner K. J is talkative and supercilious, whereas K is stoic and mono syllabic. It works… Mostly. The problem with the film is that Will Smith is just not as fun or funny as he used to be and many of his jokes fall flat. In fact, the video of him slapping a Russian reporter is funnier than many of his lines in the movie.
Tommy Lee Jones does not have a heck of a lot to do this time, but what he does, he manages ably. The really great performance in the film is Josh Brolin as the younger K. Once J goes back in time, he encounters the younger version of his partner and it seems that Brolin has been studying up on Tommy Lee Jones. Brolin plays K as slightly less gruff and grumpy, but he is not too far removed from the character that he eventually becomes.
The real disappointment, on the other hand, is Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal. Clement has proven himself as a great comic actor in the Flight of the Conchords TV show and movies including Eagle Vs Shark and Gentlemen Broncos, but he falls flat as Boris the Animal. It seems as though he is using his ‘David Bowie’ accent from the Flight of the Conchords TV show, and he is only really allowed to shout, point and kill people. Shame. Emma Thompson is also completely underused, but for the time she is on screen, she is fine.
The film uses any chance it gets to show off another alien. This time out we have a precog alien who is actually rather endearing and some restaurant owners who may not be running things exactly as they should. As well as this Bill Hader and Will Arnett turn up as MIB agents and we learn there was more to Andy Warhol than we thought.
The story is fairly simple, even with the time travelling elements, although there is an unnecessarily mushy end sequence that the audience could have done without. Younger members of the audience may be confused by the mentions of racial tension – which disappears after one ‘joke’ – and the hippie movement, but this is not enough to spoil their enjoyment of the film. That said, the enjoyment of the film mainly comes from the supporting cast, and Will Smith is given some truly awful lines.
Barry Sonnenfield has managed to recapture the feel of the previous Men in Black movies in this sequel and for those of us who remember seeing the first movie in the cinema, this will add another layer of nostalgia to the film. That said, the film does feel a little like Men in Black lite and Zed (Rip Torn) and Frank the Pug’s absent is felt thoughout, although many audience members may be glad that Will Smith did not sing the lead single this time.
In all, Men in Black 3 was not needed, and the $225 million budget is nowhere to be seen on screen, but the film is fun and better than it should be, mainly due to Josh Brolin’s great performance. The series is now wrapped up nicely in a trilogy, but seeing as it has already earned its budget back, we may have to deal with Men in Black 4 in years to come.