The third, and apparently not final, installment of Will Smith’s highly successful Men in Black series came out today and Nic and I were lucky enough to catch a sneak peek on Wednesday night. I have to admit, going into the theatre I assumed that this was just another attempt to revitalize a series with the addition of 3D, a surefire way to draw a crowd and make a few bucks. Luckily this wasn’t the case. Side note: Can I just say how nice it is to see Smith finally back on the screen four years after 2008’s “Seven Pounds” disaster? Am I right?
Anyways, Smith returns as the chatty Agent J, and Tommy Lee Jones, who looks older than ever, reprises his role as the surly and unemotional Agent K, although he is hardly in the film. The film opens up with Jermaine Clement as Boris the Animal (more Tim Curry than I was ready for) escaping from a high security alien prison on the moon. Having lost his arm to Agent K more than 40 years ago, his main priority is to go back in time and rewrite history by killing Agent K before he loses his arm and is imprisoned on the moon. This leads agent J to time-jump back to 1969 by literally jumping off of the Chrysler Building, which, in 3D was actually pretty incredible to look at.
The “Back to the Future”-esque move actually helps save “MIB3” from being another boring threequel. Not only do we get and alien version of Andy Warhol’s The Factory and various references to the condition of civil rights for African Americans in the 60s but it also allows Josh Brolin to serve us his best Tommy Lee Jones, which he does quite exceptionally. Not only is Brolin a total babe, but also his more relaxed and charmingly southern take on Agent K is a welcome addition to the film.
Aside from all the gimmicks and expectedly cheesy absurdity of the film, you’re left with a relatively simple plot line that manages engage and entertain while being respective and at times even sentimental to the characters fans originally fell in love with in 1997. The Fresh Prince, however, continues to be the main driving force behind much of the films success, even if the witty neophyte Smith played in ’97 was a hard act to follow. As with many sequels, this film does not surpass the original but remains successful because it doesn’t even try to. It reuses a lot of similar gags and comedy that made the original such a hit.
In the end, Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed the two previous installments of the franchise, gives us a film that is neither as fun or fresh as the first nor as boring and unnecessary as the second. A genius casting choice, an acceptable plot line and a surprisingly effective use of 3D made this film well worth the 106 minutes and will surely make it a box office hit.
For those of you who do choose to see it, don’t expect to be “bouncing, sliding, or walking” with Will Smith as you exit the theatre, this film’s underwhelming theme song is sang by Pitbull. Enough said.
Movie Rating: 3 out 5 stars