Having been off the radar for six years now, I have to say it’s so nice to see director Barry Sonnenfeld back to his standard brand of wackiness. After having tried, unsuccessfully, to branch out to more family-friendly fare (RV), and after supplying simply more of the same with Men in Black II, Sonnenfeld finally brings us the sequel we should have gotten last time with Men in Black III. Having dabbled in TV while missing from the big screen, MIB³ returns him back to his more comedically-stylized days of the Addams Family films and Get Shorty (although, Sonnenfeld’s work on TV with Pushing Daisies and The Tick certainly lived up to his level of quirky). There are some hilarious sight gags on display here.
Admittedly, MIB³ gets off to a rickety start. It is business as usual for Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) as they go about their day flashing their neuralyzers when a spaceship lands in the streets of Manhattan. Meanwhile, Boris The Animal (Jemaine Clement) has just escaped a maximum security prison located on the moon. We also learn that MIB Chief Zed (Rip Torn) has passed on and the MIB is now under the control of Agent O (Emma Thompson). After a shootout in a Chinese restaurant, J and K learn about Boris’ escape from Lunar-Max and that he has come to earth to rewrite history. Not though without the help of Jeffrey Price (Michael Chernus), who has a time-jumping device which sends Boris back to 1969 where he kills K leaving only J with his memories from the last 14 years.
At first no one believes J and thinks he’s suffering from an extraterrestrial tick bite. But his thirst for chocolate milk and frequent headaches clue O into what’s really going on. J is suffering from a “temporal fracture,” meaning someone has altered reality. Now J must also pay a visit to Jeffrey to get himself back to 1969 to track down Boris before he can kill K and prevent him from initiating a defense device given to him by a “pre-cog” of sorts named Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg). Boris wants revenge on K for shooting his arm off and also wants to destroy earth in the present day, stopping K from deploying the defense device. And so begins a game of cat and mouse for J and Young Agent K (film stealing Josh Brolin), with the help of Young Agent O (Alice Eve), leading up to an event in Cape Canaveral that must happen in order to prevent Boris and his army of originally extinct Boglodites from taking out the present.
The main complaint surrounding MIB2 was its lack of plot, but that’s totally made up for here. Yes, there are aliens among us, and it definitely sounds more confusing upon trying to write that synopsis — there’s far more to the story than anyone would have guessed. While it has been made very public that the production was working without a complete script (final screenplay credit is given to Etan Cohen, Tropic Thunder and frequent Mike Judge collaborator), they clearly had a story in mind. Thankfully, MIB³ does what a successful sequel should do: bring a comfortable amount of familiarity to the proceedings while still adding to what’s happened before. Granted, none of the plot points here were hinted at in the first two films, but at least now you may look back at the original with an inkling of new meaning. Men in Black 3 squeaks by the original and makes me more than happy to see the franchise return.
Photos courtesy Columbia Pictures