'Men in Black 3' brings audiences back in time
Published: Monday, June 4, 2012
Updated: Monday, June 4, 2012 11:06
It's hard to believe that children born when the first "Men in Black" came out are now entering high school.
When it originally appeared on screens, the inventive sci-fi comedy was a breath of fresh air: a buddy cop movie with cool effects, a fret cast, and a retro vibe.
The sequel lost a lot of what worked, but thankfully, "Men in Black 3" brings it back - in time.
The plot kicks off when a violent alien named Boris escapes a maximum security prison and sets out to kill Agent K, his jailer and the man who foiled his schemes. Boris travels to 1969 to aid his younger self in killing K, and Agent J must go back in time to save his younger partner.
Now, with any time travel story, there's the risk of plot holes. The film encounters its fair share of those, but making the setting the '60s was a good move. The decade boosts the retro-factor by tenfold, and lets us see what it was that made Agent K so cranky.
The overall main plot (bad guy seeks revenge) is pretty lame, but each scene works individually, either in getting laughs or as an action scene.
The acting is good all-around. Will Smith surprisingly combines his authority-challenging, street-smart attitude from the first film with a sense of duty that really works to present J as a hyper-competent, if cocky, force for good.
Josh Brolin works his magic and does a pitch-perfect Tommy Lee Jones; the man has a gift for impersonations (see "W"). The real Tommy Lee Jones, on the other hand, delivers an odd performance.
He hits the tiredness of K very well, but the ending spoils it by having it be for no reason. Throughout the movie, his regular "deadpan foil" routine is just replaced by a sense of him not wanting to be there.
Jemaine Clement is serviceable, but Bill Hader really steals his scene as an undercover agent portraying Andy Warhol, exasperated at having to create art from increasingly mundane things.
There are two major flaws holding the film back. One, as stated earlier, is the ending. There's a purveying feeling in the movie of passing the torch or moving into the next stage in life, but it just sort of… ends. You never really know if the timeline was changed or reset back (in time) to how it was originally. There's a lot of build-up and no pay-off.
The other issue is the character of Griffin. Griffin is an alien who can see through time and its multitude of possibilities, and after he gives the heroes the magic space pendant, his role in the story literally consists of telling the audience, "Oh no, this is the timeline where good is likely to lose!"
We get it, Griffin, there's an alien assassin shooting spikes out of his hands at the agents, with the fate of the world in the balance. We understand that the heroes are in danger, without you stating it every five minutes.
"Men in Black 3" is a pretty decent movie. It mixes some mindless fun with a couple of clever jokes, and manages to entertain an audience looking for an hour and forty minutes of escapism.