Directed by long term Men In Black veteran Barry Sonnerfeld, this latest instalment in the Men In Black franchise has been ten years in the making. Will Smith reprises his role as the witty and cool Agent J, while Tommy Lee Jones returns in a cameo role as the old and surly Agent K, busting alien bad guys across Manhattan.
As the film opens, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re watching a music video, as Pussycat Dolls star Nicole Scherzinger struts along the corridors of a space prison carrying a wobbly intergalactic cake. It’s soon revealed she’s aiding in the escape of high security prisoner Boris The Animal. Boris is a typical Men In Black alien baddie, sporting a range of disgusting but funny attributes, including an insect-like creature living in the palm of his hand. Played by Jemaine Clement (who has worked on voices for Despicable Me, Rio and The Simpsons) Boris is a convincing threat who fits neatly into Men In Black’s style but offers few surprises.
The majority of the action takes place in 1969 as J travels back in time to foil Boris’ plot to murder K, erasing K from history and enabling an alien invasion. Taking up the role of the younger K is Josh Brolin (True Grit, No Country for Old Men). Tommy Lee Jones’ are big shoes to fill but Josh Brolin excels, breathing new life into the chemistry between the agents. Fans might be put off by the limited screen time awarded to Tommy Lee Jones but, in this latest edition, Jones’ Agent K looks tired and in desperate need of retirement.
While much of Men In Black 3 re-treads old ground, it does introduce a new love interest between K and new head of the agency, O. This paves the way for a short but sweet performance from Emma Thomson. Other high points in the casting include Michael Stuhlbarg (Hugo, Boardwalk Empire) as lovable psychic Griffin who sees the world’s endless possibilities. Although Griffin is used by screenwriter Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) to explain much of the plot, Stuhlbarg’s portrayal of this hopeful yet vulnerable character make this plot device more than forgivable.
Men In Black 3 updates its gags for a modern audience and is bulging with fun. It’s crowning glory is a scene at The Factory where Andy Warhol is revealed as an undercover agent. There are also plenty of nods to the earlier Men In Black movies, with pugs cropping up everywhere from bedroom walls to 60’s style advertising. Unfortunately, the plot zips along at such a rapid pace that gags on 60’s issues like civil rights just aren’t given enough time. A scene where bigoted cops pull over J in a stolen sports car is hilarious and begs ‘more please’.
Men In Black 3 delivers fun in abundance and Will Smith is on good form. Although it remains true to the style of the original and in doing this re-treads a lot of old ground, Men In Black 3 does offer an exciting time travel twist that revitalizes the story and chemistry. After the forgettable sequel Men In Black 2, this latest release is nicely satisfying. With an unexpectedly emotional finish, Men In Black 3 feels like a good place to say goodbye to these much loved characters. Only time with tell if Men In Black 4 is just around the corner.
VERDICT: ✪ ✪ ✪ ½
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