Friday, 29 March 2013

FILM: Men in Black 3 (7/10)

Why did I watch it?
I'm pretty sure I have only seen the original MiB film, somehow managing to avoid the universally panned sequel (39% RT) (either that or I've blocked it from memory). In any case, its Mrs Media Worm who loves the MiB franchise, in no small part due to Mr. Will Smith.

What's it all about?
Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) discover that Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement - Flight of the Conchords), imprisoned by K forty years previously, has escaped from a top security prison on the moon. Boris travels back in time to kill K before he can be captured. After K and everyone but J's memories of him disappear from the present, J travels back to 1969 and teams up with a younger K to stop Boris before he changes history.

Should you watch it?
Considering a third film in a franchise? Considered a time-travel plot to breathe some life into the story? This is exactly what MiB 3's writer, Etan Cohen, did and it largely works, taking Will Smith out of the present, dropping him into 1969 and adding either new characters or younger versions of characters from the previous two films. Trying to splice elements of time travel into a story always runs the risk of tying the narrative up in knots and although MiB 3 steered clear of these complications, I still found myself pondering the repercussions much afterwards. 

Due to the plot this instalment features considerably less Tommy Lee Jones than before, but fear not, the buddy movie concept is not lost as Josh Brolin accurately replicates, not just impersonates, Agent K some forty years earlier to butt heads with Smith's fast talking Agent J. Brolin's note perfect performance as a younger Jones is the highlight of the film, helping the plot  move forward in anticipation of the event that leads to K's even more dead pan and serious demeanour. What causes this actually turns out to be a surprisingly tender ending to the film, and one that deserves to finish the franchise.

"Oh no, this is the one where......"
Michael Stuhlbarg (gangster Arnold Rothstein from Boardwalk Empire) has an amusing, scene stealing turn as Griffin, the quirky alien capable of seeing all possible permutations of the future, all that was missing was a mention of Schrodinger's Cat.

All things considered, MiB 3 is a likeable return to the form for the franchise, but one that isn't truly funny or inventive enough to suggest that the franchise can go much further.


  1. Good review Mark. It was an okay movie, but Brolin is what really made it work. Smith was fine, but he seemed to be trying a bit too hard at times.

    1. Totally agree, would have been half the movie (and definitely not a good one) without Brolin. Sometimes I feel that Smith's wisecracking, fast talking characters have ran their course.