Hello Faceplanters! I realize it’s been a while since I’ve posted an article. Life threw a giant pile of stuff at me, namely moving across the country to start a new job in an industry I have zero experience in. So in short, I’ve been busy. But that’s ok, because it didn’t stop me from doing one of the things I love ; taking in an excellent film. Life didn’t stop me, but Men in Black 3 certainly did. It is NOT an excellent film. I have fond memories of the first one, I think I’ve seen two in bits and pieces from HBO, but I figured I’d give 3 a shot. It’s a serviceable movie that has some cool moments, but whatever mojo the first film had is long gone.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as Agent J and Agent K. You know the drill by now…..they’re part of the top-secret organization that regulates alien activity and citizens having to deal with Earth, and they have the ability to erase people’s mind with flashy things if anybody accidentally sees, for example, an enormous monster fish. It’s all pretty pedestrian stuff like that, but we know something big is afoot. And that is: BORIS THE ANIMAL, played by Jermaine Clement. We see this dastardly creature, who looks human but has a small bug thing that lives inside him, has super strength, and can shoot small spikes at high velocities to impale people, break out of prison at the start of the film. Why did I write his name in caps? Because he’s so overdone he’s the worst part of the movie.
The plot really kicks up when Boris goes back in time, which leads to Agent J going back in time and meeting a young Agent K, played by Josh Brolin. While BORIS is the worst (we’ll get back to him) of the film, Brolin is probably the best. It is seriously uncanny how much Brolin looks and sounds like a young Tommy Lee Jones. He nails the voice, his mannerisms, his way of movement…..it’s borderline weird. It’s such a good acting job that it feels almost out-of-place, considering the rest of the film doesn’t do a whole lot.
A couple of problems. BORIS is totally uninteresting as a villain. He’s just supposed to be bad because he’s a bad type alien, but Vincent D’onofrio already did that (and better) in the first film. He’s just evil for evil’s sake…which comes off as “we need somebody to move the plot along….how about an angry huge guy who can shoot spikes? YEAH!” It seems very uninspired. While both Agent K and J express some fear and take BORIS very seriously, we as the audience are just left wondering what the big deal is. The other major problem is that for being an action comedy, neither the action or the comedy is very effective. Aliens explode into goo, Will Smith fights CGI things and cracks wise while doing so, and there’s even cool time travel sequences, but the CGI just seems….fake. I could feel the green screen there. The jokes are mostly seen coming from a mile away. One characters ability to see all possible outcomes was supposed to be funny for almost the entire second half of the movie, but I barely cracked a smile. Everybody was just going through the motions.
There are positives here. Smith and Jones, while hampered a bit by the script, do deliver their normal solid performances, and they are both clearly comfortable with these characters. Brolin I already talked about, he’s basically the reason to see the film. What surprised me most is the actual touching and well done ending. The action is over, the comedy mostly stops, and we have actually have a fairly big revelation about MIB lore (it’s three films, it has earned the ability to have lore) that is really well acted by all three principles. It’s….actual drama that works.
I think if I were 12-14 years old I would have loved this film. It’s clearly aiming for the masses. It’s safe, there are no risks, no boundaries crossed. It’s not a terrible film by any means….it’s just entirely forgettable. I can barely remember any of the big “jokes” and I’m only a week removed from seeing it. The one thing has stuck with me was the ending. Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin are all incredible actors. Were these three to team up and make an ACTUAL drama, that could be an amazing film. As it stands, we have the barest hint of it near the end. Bored and catching it on HBO? Men in Black 3 will work, just stay to see Brolin impersonating Jones. As something worth going to the theater to see? Not worth it. I miss that pug.