Gotta be honest with you when I mention that I’ve never been all that crazy about any of the ‘Men In Black’ movies. The first one was slightly amusing, but kind of a disappointment considering all the hype that led up to it, and the second one felt like folks were just going though the Sci-Fi Motions just to get it over with. Thus while I wasn’t thrilled to death to see a third ‘Men in Black’, it’s not like I’m not going to trudge to the theater to watch it, but my expectations weren’t all that high. With that being said, at least in my humble opinion, ‘Men in Black III’ is the best of the three films, a little darker, a little more esoteric, better thought out and more clever. It’s still not transcendent entertainment but it was solid entertainment. Better than solid even.
Our film opens with the extremely lethal galactic criminal Boris the Animal (Anthony Clement) busting out of the joint with the help of a total dime as played by Nicole Scherzinger. That young woman looks very nice. Anyway, the one-armed Boris is on the loose and he has a plan to change history. While this is happening Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are still having their communication issues, K being more surly than usual, while getting ready for the funeral of director Zed. We were a little concerned but don’t worry, actor Rip Torn isn’t dead for real, just froze out of this movie is all.
Zed has been replaced by Agent O (Emma Thompson) who sends J and K on a routine mission that ends up being anything but. To the surprise of no one. In a move out of Marvel Comics, Boris is kind of like a Herald of Galactus and was on earth to get it ready to be devoured by his people. K stopped all that nonsense back in ’69 and launched the ARCNET which now protects our earth from future invasions, but what if there was a way Boris could rewrite what happened in 1969. That would suck for us, but damn if Boris doesn’t find a way to travel back in time and make that happen.
So forty years plus worth of K is wiped out which I would’ve thought would’ve had other massive time/space continuum ramifications, but they didn’t go there. What does happen is that J realizes something really bad has happened, the invasion that shouldn’t have happened is happening, and somehow J needs to go back to ’69 to undo what Boris has gone and done.
Simple enough. J goes back to 1969, it’s complicated but he goes there, runs into some racism, naturally, meets a 29 year old junior Agent K (Josh Brolin), convinces him of what’s going on and adventure is afoot. Remember, the original Boris… who is a lethal as they come… is already there and a second lethal Boris, a smarter, wiser Boris, will be there in a couple of hours. Somehow J has to find a way to change history back, with the help of an alien named Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg) who lives in five dimensions and sees all the futuristic possibilities, and hopefully keep Agent K from dying this time around. And maybe learn the reasons why K is the way that K is. An answer to a question that K warns J he might not want the answer to.
So while we enjoyed ‘Men in Black III’, let’s talk about some Time / Space Continuum issues we noticed. This one thing doesn’t happen in the movie itself, but if I remember correctly in the second film K averted yet another galactic disaster that happened back when he was a junior agent in the fifties. So here they’re messing with their own timeline, or K was a twelve year old MIB agent in the second movie. So if forty years of K is wiped out, would J even be an MIB agent? Shouldn’t J have no knowledge of K? They might’ve explained that, but I missed it. Since Boris completed his mission in the new reality back in 1969, why did it take forty three years for the Bogladytes, or whatever the heck they were called, to finally invade. I mean I know why cinematically speaking, but logically it doesn’t make a lot of sense. There’s a whole bunch of time / space continuity issues in this film in relation to erasing K, but whaddayagonnado?
The thing is it’s the same time / space thing that makes the movie enjoyable and also adds a bit of well thought out cleverness to it, mostly though the character of Griffin so wonderfully played by Michael Stuhlbarg. The concept of the possibilities of all the things that could conceivably happen within any given moment was very well presented, and this kind of gives the movie its edge. Yes, we know with some certainty that the possibility of J and K saving The Earth is all but guaranteed, but it’s the possibilities of how this is going to happen that keeps us guessing.
That being said this is still a standard ‘Men in Black’ film, plenty of action, more slimy creature mayhem, a little more murder than usual which does make this one a little darker, lots of K being surly, more so than usual, and J being animated… a little less than usual. Some have mentioned that it looked like Will Smith didn’t give his all this time around, but I must disagree. Let’s not forget that Agent J is fourteen years on the job, as he will remind us a few times, and is in his forties now. Chances are he’s not going to be same spunky, wise-cracking kid he was in the first MIB. Kudos to Josh Brolin who somehow channeled the inner crustiness of Agent K, voice and all, who gave us a character who was Agent K and not just a mimic of Agent K, just a little younger and a little happier. I don’t know if the movie successfully explained the ‘dark reasons’ why the current Agent K is so depressed all the time, my thought process being that what happened back then might’ve been crappy, but not necessarily personality altering, but we can roll with it.
The bottom line, at least from where we were sitting, was that ‘Men in Black III’ was some fine summertime blockbusting entertainment that had a lot going for it, with a set of plusses that far outweigh it’s negatives.