Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Men in Black 3’ Review: Third’s a Charm

Whenever I see the number ‘3’ in a movie title, I always get a little skeptical that the franchise has gone too far. With the exception of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi or Toy Story 3, sequels tend to not be as entertaining as the original film gems.

The first Men in Black came out in 1997. It was a fresh story, smartly written and starred one of the biggest actors of the late ’90s, Will Smith. K (Tommy Lee Jones) recruits J (Smith) for a secret government agency who patrols aliens on planet Earth. Nicknamed, “men in black” for their black suits, shoes, ties and famous sunglasses, J and K go out and fight the forces of alien evil.

In Men in Black 2, Jones and Smith reprise their roles, there’s a talking pug and that’s about all I remember from the easily forgotten film.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld, known for his dark visuals comes back again to direct this third installment to the sci-fi franchise and it’s well worth the 10 year gap since it’s predecessor. Not only is the direction of Men in Black 3 visually pleasing and well constructed, the film actually has a solid plot! The first film was an origin story, so there’s all the dialogue explaining the agency, K’s background, etc. and the second film, was desperately trying too hard to be a remake of the first, with more aliens and explosions.

The film begins with a prison break scene, where we are introduced to the alien villain, Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement) who is out to seek revenge against the man who put him behind bars, Agent K. He travels from his space prison to New York City, where he gets a time traveling widget that allows him to go back in time to 1969 with one goal in order: Kill K.

With J and K on Boris’ trail, J just can’t seem to pinpoint why K is emotionally closed off and the two bicker back and forth as we are re-introduced to their goofy ‘partner-in-crime’ relationship. When Boris jumps back to the past, the future is in for a rude awakening. J wakes up the next morning to find that K doesn’t exist and what’s worse, no one at the agency remembers him either.

Boss-lady of the agency O (Emma Thompson), informs J that K died in the line of battle in 1969, so without further thought, J travels back in time, to save K and save the world. What does he come to find in 1969? Hippies, Cadillacs and a young K (Josh Brolin), who still carries the same ol’ demeanor, but with a touch of sincerity.

Smith is the true “energizer bunny” on the Men in Black films, but Brolin’s take on K at age 29 gives the franchise the fresh take we were hoping for. Brolin captures the stoic personality and intimidating squint Jones gave the character of K. Brolin brings an emotional core, Smith brings the funny and Jones brings the origin story that make the plot come full circle.

Men in Black 3 certainly doesn’t outdo the original, but with Brolin on board and Smith back on screen (where has he been anyway?), it’s an entertaining summer flick that will leave you laughing and maybe, even crying.

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