Men in Black III (2012)
About six hours after watching this movie, I had a flight to catch at 6 am. My sleepy, bleary-eyed cousin kept vigil with me while waiting for the taxi when he said, “I’ve been thinking about it. You know that scene when J and K …. <spoilers>?“
Right there. That’s the sign of a time travel film worth its salt: one that keeps you looking for inconsistencies, for how-did-they-do-thats and makes you constantly revisit the film. But at the other end of the spectrum you have those films that use time travel as a plot devise and then lazily ignore it once it has done its job (I’m looking at you, Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban). Time travel may not have been the centrepiece of MIB III, but I’m so glad they spent enough time on a decent screenwriter to cover (most of) the plot holes. Of course there were inconsistencies. Even my favourite time travel film is riddled with those, but in a well-made film those are less of an annoyance because there is so much more to these movies. With humour, a fantastically gross villain and surprisingly good 3D effects, MIB III succeeded in doing just that.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones don their black suits and sunglasses and take on alien criminals and scumbags for the third time. Time travel plot line aside, was MIB III worth the decade-long wait? Did I want to be neuralysed after watching the film? Do I want to go back in time and stop the sequel from being made? As you can see, this post would have been far more fun to write if I hated the movie but no such luck. It was a funny, well-made film with super action scenes, 3D that wasn’t just an excuse to plunder my wallet and a fabulous revelation known as Josh Brolin.
12 years have passed since Agent J (Will Smith) joined the Men in Black. He is now a Class 1 Senior Agent, but it still rankles that Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) isn’t forthcoming and honest with him. And then they find out that the crazy powerful alien Boris the Animal has escaped from prison and is determined to never be caught again, even in the past. He goes back in time to prevent K from ever capturing him and it is up to J to go back in time as well to prevent this from happening…. and yeah yeah, enough of this. Let’s talk about Josh Brolin.
JOSH BROLIN! He plays a young Agent K and what a fantastic job he does. Not only does he manage to get Tommy Lee Jones’ mannerisms down to a pat, but he also interprets the character as he may he been in his youth before he forgot to stop and just look at the stars, a time when a romance didn’t seem altogether unrealistic. The imitation was flawless and totally believable, but without caricaturing Tommy Lee Jones and that, I think was the challenge. The comparison to dour, old, present-day K may be funny but one can’t forget how critical J is to that comparison. J is a man who never lost his sense of humour or wide-eyed idealism even 12 years after hunting down alien smugglers and slimebeasts, unlike K who built a fortress of cold rationality around him. This gave the scenes with Josh Brolin and Will Smith a lot more depth and their camaraderie was fantastic.
The great cast was supported by a really, really funny script that took plenty of digs at ’60s racist America and hippies and reminded us why we fell in love with the MIB series in the first place. Oh I know I’m in a minority but I thoroughly enjoyed MIB II (even though the de-neuralyser machine seemed like a bit of a cop-out). I was also pleased to note that there were few references to the old films and almost zero rehashed jokes. Just for not making me sit through scenes with that irritating talking dog, this film gets my vote.