Men in Black 3 is certainly a welcome sight while offering a fresh twist for the franchise ten years after a very sour outing.
One minute, Agent J (Will Smith) is on the phone with Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). The next minute, J finds himself with a temporal fracture headache and craving chocolate milk. An altered timeline means that so much hasn’t happened. And yet, J would still be recruited into the MIB agency without the one man who believed in him. Agent O (Emma Thompson) has replaced Zed but unlike the rest of MIB, she’s the only other agent that remembers K. Perhaps it was because of knowing him in the past. Altering the space-time continuum can be weird but also devastating.
The time traveling component is honestly over-worn at this point. However, I like the way its executed here. Not only is J forced to save K in the past but he’s able to better understand his partner. That’s right. The two of them are still working together. In the previous decade, Agent J has climbed up the MIB rankings to become one of their top agents. But to save the day, J must travel back to 1969 in order to prevent Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) from killing his partner. There’s quite the pop cultural references in this film. Andy Warhol just happens to be none other than an undercover MIB agent. Genius!
Going back to 1969 would be well-suited for a film made today given the 50th anniversary. But for one released in 2012, it’s perfectly fine, too. I do love that Men in Black 3 expands upon the backstory for Agent K and shows why he cares so much about J. The other added bonus that we get in the film is a clairvoyant alien, Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg). It also leads to some added humor in the film especially become of all the different possibilities. It wouldn’t be a film set in 1969 without a reference to the Amazing Mets!
Josh Brolin captures the very essence of a young Agent K. Brolin delivers a pitch-perfect performance that matches Tommy Lee Jones. It’s uncanny to tell you the truth. In preparing for the new film, I decided to give the trilogy a rewatch. When you watch a lot of Tommy Lee Jones in one franchise, you can see how Brolin is able match not only the mannerisms but the dry wit. Again, the dry wit is one of the reasons why the partnership works so well.
Shortly after J goes back in time, there’s a nice tribute to Frank the Pug. When J gets pulled over, you can see a sign advertising The Incredible Speaking Pug on a billboard. Mushu, who portrayed Frank, passed away between sequels but there’s a photo of him in J’s apartment, too. May Mushu’s memory be a blessing.
Men in Black 3 is a welcome relief while not exactly perfect.
DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld
SCREENWRITER: Etan Cohen
CAST: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Emma Thompson