Going into “Men in Black 3” (or is it MIB³?) I had a question: why does this film exist, especially now? The first film in what I guess is now a trilogy, “Men in Black,” is a fun film from 1997, but not much more. People make it out to be an amazing classic, and although I do enjoy it and I own it, it’s really not much more than Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in a series of fun action scenes with really creatively designed aliens. Bearing that in mind, did MIB3 live up to the original? Somewhat. It was at the very least fun, something the second film “MIIB,” failed to achieve. But it’s still a very messy, poorly written film saved by everything that made the first film really notable.
The plot here is really disjointed, not nice and simple like the first film. Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) are basically how they were a decade ago: still partners, doing the same thing day in and day out. Agent K is still a grumpy old man, and Agent J is still what rich white people think black people act like. The film opens with us meeting an alien, Boris, escaping from a prison on the moon, to exact revenge on Agent K, for arresting him and destroying his arm 40 years before. Boris decides to go back in time to 1969 and kill Agent K before he can arrest the younger him.
As a result, Agent J wakes up to a world one day without any Agent K. He put the pieces together and figures out what exactly happened, and so he too goes back in time, to stop Boris from killing Agent K. This results in a bunch of jokes about the 60s, a lot of which really work. Bill Hader pops up as Andy Warhol and is great, but the true highlight of the 60s (and really the whole film) is Josh Brolin, playing the younger version of Agent K. It’s staggering how well Brolin looks, acts, and talks like Jones does. If I didn’t know better, I would say that Jones had dubbed over Brolin’s voice. He nails the role, and adds a lot to a very thinly written character (who is still the deepest character in the film).
Outside of Brolin and some fun aliens however, there isn’t much there. It borrows a lot from the films before it , and is a mess, but an enjoyable mess nonetheless. In a way it’s impressive how well the film turned out; this could have been a huge disaster. Filming began with a script that only had a third of it written, there was no second or third act thought up yet. That spells disaster in big neon letters. It’s the first film Will Smith has been in since 2008’s “Seven Pounds,” and he’s exactly what you expect Will Smith in a Men in Black movie to act like. Nothing more or less.
The villain is pretty forgettable too, even down to the design. It’s funny how interesting a lot of the background aliens are, those that appear for just a split second, but then you have this boring guy who just looks like a biker with goggles and scary teeth. He has some kind of spike shooting power too, but it’s just as boring as the rest of him.
So on the “Men in Black” ranking, it falls in between the two others. It’s not as good as the original, it’s more so a rehash of the same idea with a bit bigger of a heart and a little more insight into Tommy Lee Jones’ character. It’s far better than the second entry, but then again that’s like saying “Hey, at least you didn’t completely fail your test!”