A movie sequel no one was exactly clamoring for. It happened last year with the surprisingly entertaining Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and now this year comes Men in Black III. Add this to the fact that star Will Smith hasn’t exactly had much of a summer box-office presence as he did in the 1990s with Independence Day and the original MIB. And it’s even almost safe to assume that the whole MIB franchise seems a bit outdated and unnecessary now in 2012. But despite all this, director Barry Sonnenfeld reunites Smith and co-star Tommy Lee Jones for MIB III and delivers a perfectly entertaining popcorn flick.
In MIB III, Smith and Jones return as Agents J and K—of course still working for a secret agency assigned to keep track of aliens on Earth. The film doesn’t dawdle and gets right down to the point straight away: a brutal alien named Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) has managed to escape from a maximum security prison stationed on the moon. Boris and Agent K have an unpleasant history dating back some 40-plus years in which K shot off one of Boris’ arms, captured him and ensured his imprisonment up on the moon ever since. But now that he has broken out, Boris manages to go back in time to that fateful day in 1969, kill K and change both their fates.
J eventually discovers what happened after he wakes up to find out fate had changed, K had died in 1969 now and Boris is on the verge of orchestrating major alien havoc on Earth. J quickly follows suit by leaping back in time (literally) to stop Boris and try to change things back. Now that he’s been transported back over 40 years into the past, J meets a much younger K, played by Josh Brolin. Sonnenfeld cleverly cast Brolin as a younger K and Brolin pulls off Jones’ look and voice perfectly. Chemistry is key and Smith and Jones made for a good odd-couple pairing in the first MIB go around and Smith is able to capture the same here with a very game Brolin.
What makes the film enjoyable is that the film gets down to business quickly, has a fairly straight-forward, no-fuss plot and is pretty well paced. Being a summer popcorn flick, it meets your typical expectations—and yet maintains its fun, entertaining value. The original film had a good amount of humor and III matches it nicely. Smith could probably do this film in his sleep at this point in his career, but he nonetheless amuses and makes for a pretty entertaining “fish out of water” when he’s out of his element in 1969. Jones is still stoic as ever as K, but not much more should be expected of him considering it’s how his character is. Like I mention earlier, the Brolin casting was spot-on and makes the film all the more fun seeing him take on Jones’ portrayal of K.
The whole going back in time plot actually serves J and K’s partnership well because J gains more of an understanding of who K was back in the day and the film even manages to rewardingly expand on the connection between the two partners—who started out 15 years ago as the seasoned vet and the young rookie. (Or so it seemed that’s how their connection started maybe?) By doing this, it unexpectedly adds a bit more to the MIB franchise than a mere, atypical alien invasion plot or what have you story would have done.
Unlike the film in which the agents have to flash their little memory-wiping device to erase people’s memories of the extraterrestrial goings on that they just witnessed, audiences won’t need such a thing done to them after watching MIB III. It’s an unexpected sequel to be sure, but with a straight-forward plot, entertaining cast and nicely added touch to J and K’s odd-couple “bromance,” III proved to be an enjoyable summer flick all the same. Not earth-shatteringly awesome, but a worthy sequel worth watching during the summer popcorn flick season.
3 ½ out of 5 stars