Men in Black 3 is by no means a terrible film. (No that’s a term I’d use to describe the second film in the series). But it does seem rather pointless, and has very little of that irreverence and goofiness that made the first film so popular.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as Agents J and K, a pair of secret agents in matching black suits, whose jobs mostly involve running around New York and chasing down grotesque aliens masquerading as humans. Emma Thompson stars as Agent O, their new boss, and Jermaine Clement is Boris The Animal, the film’s one-armed freakish villain, who escapes from a maximum security prison on the Moon and is hell-bent on changing the past. Boris wants to go back to 1969 and kill a young Agent K, before Agent K cuts off his limb. Smith’s character, Agent J, must now travel back in time to keep his partner from being killed.
Aside from the obvious fish-out-of-water jokes that arise out of the time-travel premise, there’s little that’s funny here. Will Smith gets a few laughs from a sequence that involves a stolen car, and there’s also a brief clever bit in which Andy Warhol (played by Bill Hader) makes an appearance. The rest, unfortunately, is just ho-hum.
Josh Brolin, who stars as the younger Agent K, does a bang-up job of impersonating Tommy Lee Jones’ deadpan voice and stone-faced demeanor, but there’s very little of that crackling repartee that Smith and Jones shared in the earlier films.
Men in Black 3 introduces a new character (played by Michael Stuhlbarg) who has the ability to see the future, but that track isn’t exploited for its comic potential, instead it’s used to inject a dose of schmaltz. There’s also a surprisingly touching twist in the end, which makes you wonder if you strolled into the wrong film – the Men in Black movies were meant to be funny, not sentimental, were they?
What the film does offer are some super special effects, and make-up wiz Rick Baker creates a whole pantheon of first-rate aliens. It’s a pity the rest of this film doesn’t have the same inventive streak.
I’m going with two out of five for director Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black 3. Huge chunks of this film are convoluted and confusing, and even Will Smith looks like he’s in it just for the paycheque.