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Men In Black 3 - Review

Men in Black 3

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

GIVEN the belated nature of this three-quel Men In Black 3 isn’t a bad return for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. But it works best when playing to the strengths of its leading trio rather than when doing anything plot-wise or effects related.

Returning director Barry Sonnenfeld also struggles to recapture the freshness and ingenuity of its 14-year-old predecessor even though this third film is a marked improvement on Men In Black II (which was still 10 years ago).

The plot finds Agent J (Smith) being forced to travel back in time to 1969 to try and save his partner, Agent K (Jones), who has been targeted by a vengeful super-criminal named Boris The Animal (The Flight of the Conchords‘ Jemaine Clement), who has also discovered the ability to time travel.

Once there, J has to team up with K’s younger self (Josh Brolin) to save the planet and, in doing so, comes to learn a few hard truths about what made his partner become so glum.

To be fair, there are some nice ideas at play in Etan Coen’s screenplay that both further the relationship between the two central characters while giving the actors playing them plenty to do.

The interplay between Smith and Jones continues to sparkle, while Brolin’s impersonation of Jones, albeit in younger, lighter guise, is also brilliantly realised.

Indeed, Brolin fits into the dynamic really well in what must have been a tricky, if not daunting role to perfect, while also ensuring that the film’s conclusion is both as poignant and eventually heart-warming as Sonnenfeld undoubtedly hoped.

It’s a shame, therefore, that the film’s main villain, Clement’s Boris, is pretty uninteresting and arguably a little too mean and scary for the PG certificate (especially early on). His part of the story has a been there, seen it before element.

Wasted, too, is Emma Thompson/Alice Eve’s love story element, which runs out of steam and seems to get forgotten, while some of the plot points involving the time travel don’t stand up to close scrutiny and feel contrived.

In spite of this, the effects remain top drawer and the set pieces are mostly fun while never really blowing your mind in the same way as the best blockbusters do… although there’s good support from Michael Stuhlbarg as a key figure named Griffin and Bill Hader as Andy Warhol.

Some of the background visuals and throwaway observations are amusing, too, which makes some of the lazier elements of this three-quel harder to forgive.

In the final analysis, Men In Black III is a light-weight but consistently watchable blockbuster that works more on the strength of its performances than anything else. It won’t live long in the memory but it does entertain along the way.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 106mins
UK Release Date: May 25, 2012