If there’s one thing that makes the Men in Black series work it’s neither the CGI effects, as good as they are, nor the creative design of the villainous aliens, as yucky as they are, it’s the human element; the cast. In the original 1997 film – let’s forget the 2002 sequel – the teaming of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones was an unexpected triumph. In this unnecessary though generally fun third outing it’s the inclusion of Josh Brolin that makes the difference, and he really makes it work.
In number 3, the most repugnant of all dangerous aliens, a creature known as Boris the Animal with the strangest of English speaking accents, escapes from his cell and he’s out for revenge. We learn that Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) chopped the alien’s arm off several years ago before the incarceration and now Boris wants it back. The only way he can get his arm back – admittedly, the plot is already a little convoluted, but stick with it – is for the alien to go back in time to 1969 and kill Agent K before any damage is done.
Will Smith reprises his role as Agent J and does what any good partner would do in a science fiction adventure comedy, he chases the alien back in time to 1969 in order stop the murder of Agent K. This is where Josh Brolin comes in.
If you watch enough late night TV you may have seen what a talent for mimicry Josh Brolin has, not mention how well he did as George W Bush in the 2008 film W. In Men In Black 3 Brolin does a younger Tommy Lee Jones to comic perfection. But make no mistake, Brolin isn’t taking the easy way out with a simple impersonation; he’s recreating Jones as Jones would play a younger Agent K, and it’s so effective the film actually comes alive once his character is on screen.
The ways and means that the film sets up in order for the alien and Smith to travel back to 1969 is not as inventive as it could have been, plus the little oval shaped hand device the characters use in order to make that leap backwards is, frankly, awkward. It appears that the devices – there are two of them hidden away in a box – are for some reason in the care of an alien shop keeper. When Smith goes in pursuit of the time traveling alien, he opens the box to grab one of the devices and sees the empty space the other device once occupied until it was forcibly claimed by Boris the Animal. You may find yourself immediately asking, why didn’t Boris take them both, thus ensuring no one could follow him back in time to stop his plans for revenge? Probably because in a film like Men In Black 3 you don’t allow logic to get in the way of a plot point.
In truth, Brolin is the shot in the arm the series needed, not that it ever really needed to be a series in the first place; the first one covered it all. There’s also an odd but comical turn by Emma Thompson who here plays Agent O, replacing Rip Torn as the MIB Commander in Chief, plus an almost unrecognizable Bill Hader from TV’s SNL in a very funny cameo as Andy Warhol, complete with fake nose and appropriate wig.
I’m hearing talk of a fourth adventure. I hope not. It would be hard for director Barry Sonnenfeld to come up with something as refreshingly creative as Josh Brolin in yet another outing, but you never know. On the other hand, after the sequel I never held out much hope for number 3 until I saw it.
MPAA Rating: PG -13 Length: 105 minutes Overall Rating: 7 (out of 10)