Film: Men In Black 3
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Sitting in the AMC Loews Boston Commons Monday night, I found it hard to believe a decade had past since we last followed agents J and K into battle against forces from outer space. There was an excitement in the theater, even if the film was 3D, that something reminiscent of the joy attached to the memory of those times might be found in the digital experience that lie ahead. An hour and forty-six minutes later we had our answer: No.
Though very deeply flawed, Men In Black 3 does a more than commendable job of giving fans young an old something wholly unique and wonderful to take away from an experience that could have easily been a disaster. After one of time’s most notorious villains breaks out of a lunar prison with plans to assassinate Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), agent J (Will Smith) must travel back in time and save the day while spitting as many one-liners and observational remarks as possible. It’s formulaic, yes, but what do you expect (or want) from a sequel a decade in the making? This is a movie made for seemingly no other reason than cashing in on the hopes a once gargantuan franchise can rise from like a phoenix from Netflix queues, but somewhere along the line they got in way over their heads and spent $375 million trying to make that wild idea a reality, so any expectations that viewers will be thrown a curve ball should be discarded in the receptacles on your way in. Actually, just toss your entire memory of every more enjoyable sci-fi film and/or blockbuster action/comedy in the past decade, because the relationships and foibles on J and K are not the only stale parts of this flick.
The plot of MIB 3 turns out to be a really engaging idea, with Jemaine Clement portraying the comical Boris The Animal (who prefers to be called “Boris”). He’s a very peculiar, over-the-top creation, which may drive some to cry foul, but again this was never a series built on realism. Just like the swiss cheese time travel plotline, the more you just “let it unfold,” the better off you are. It’s supposed to be a bit silly, it is a Summer blockbuster after all. You probably just forgot that because you were a child/teen/a decade younger that last time you cared in the slightest about these characters. Detaching the sentimental connection with the reality of the series and how it is executed can be nearly impossible (seemingly moreso when Will Smith is involved), but the hard truth at the end of the day is that two of Hollywood’s biggest draws woke up to the metaphorical beeping sound of semi trucks backing trailers filled with gold coins to their doors with a script that might as well have been called Buddy Cops Fight Space Monsters. That movie made over $100 million at a time when such achievements were heralded as astonishing, and a franchise was born that unfortunately does not stand up well against the test of time UNLESS the viewer can again reach the level of joy recalled from memories.
If you’re asking yourself whether or not Men In Black 3 is worth your time, ask yourself exactly what it is you’re looking for when going to the movies. Are you hoping to reconnect with beloved characters and go on another adventure filled with witty remarks and fancy CGI? If so, there is a pretty good chance you will leave MIB3 with a smile on your face. That said, if you’re the type who recently broke out The Goonies for the first time in years and thought “Holy shit, this movie holds up worse than waterlogged love letters. Why did I just do this? I ruined a perfectly good memory, forever.” I advise you stay far, far away.
Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)