Three films, three agents, 3D, three jokes: three stars
TAKING its cue from Indiana Jones that it is apparently permissable to make a movie sequel more than ten years after the last one, Will Smith brings back his Man in Black for a third time. But is it third time lucky for the Fresh Prince and his double-decker trailer?
MiB filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld attempts to reinvigorate his franchise ten years after the second instalment and 15 years after the original. This may seem a bit of an odd choice as there didn’t seem to be any worldwide clamour for a third movie, save for maybe Smith who hasn’t actually starred in a big blockbuster for a few years now. Perhaps with a Coen writing MiB3, it has a chance. Whoops, that’s not either of the Coen brothers, but a fella named Etan Coen who gets top writing billing among three others for a movie that started filming before the script was even finished. Not a good start for his Will-ness.
MiB3 starts with the prison break of Boris the Animal (Clement best known for Flight of the Conchords, taking a turn against type) who has a beef to pick with Agent K (Jones) who put him behind bars, taking one of his arms in the process. In order to exact his revenge, he plans to travel back to 1969 to repay him for good. Meanwhile, Agents J (Smith) and K are a bit morose as Agent Z is dead, as is any zip or life in the partner banter of the two agents from the first film. I guess 15 years can do that to anybody. But when K disappears from existence in 2012, only J notices something is wrong. Eventually he determines that he too must travel back in time, with the help of a sympathetic fifth dimensional being named Griffen (Stuhlbarg), to save his partner (and of course the world) with the help of Agent K v.1969 (Brolin).
MiB3 is really what the second instalment should have been, and tonally it is more akin to the first as well. It’s a light, fun sci-fi adventure, with perhaps a slightly darker overture than the previous films. The big cookie (somewhat over-foreshadowed) is that the previously unexplained reason of why K recruited J in the first place is also finally brought to light, providing an unexpected note of sentimentality that worked surprisingly well, even though everyone could see it coming.
With Tommy Lee Jones relegated to supporting status (about 15 minutes of screen time), Will Smith takes the main starring role. While he gets to revert back to the feel-good, almost goofy Agent J of the first film, sometimes the humour feels a bit pressed. The defacto star of MiB3 is Josh Brolin, as demonstrated from all the previews, who is even better when you get to see him for the entire film. He somehow manages to perfectly portray Jones’ mannerisms but still inject enough of his own relative youth (he’s 44 but playing an agent of 29) to make Agent K v.1969 his own character.
When talking about Men in Black movies, I would be remiss to not mention the (once again) superb alien/costume design of Rick Baker who delivers a movie full of goodies (once again). It’s also worth noting that while it is sometimes possible to see movies outside the theatre, MiB3 is worth seeing in one – if for nothing else the roar of the Apollo rocket that rumbles your chest, and the 3D which is one of the better that I have encountered.
Men in Black III 3D (11)
Dir: Barry Sonnenfelds; US action, 2012, 105 mins; Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alice Eve
Premiered May 24