Men in Black 3
dir Barry Sonnenfeld
scr Etan Cohen
prd Laurie MacDonald, Walter F Parkes
with Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bill Hader, David Rasche, Michael Chernus, Mike Colter, Nicole Scherzinger
release US/UK 25.May.12
12/US Columbia 1h46
Men in Black 3
Through the years: Brolin and Smith

jones clement thompson
See also:
Men in Black II (2002) Men in Black International (2019)
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Men in Black 3 A decade after Men in Black II, the cast and crew attempt to rekindle that blend of dry humour and outrageous silliness. But instead of ramping up the hilarity, as in part 2, this movie is weighed down with a messy plot and jokes that are amusing if not actually funny.

One day Agent J (Smith) wakes up to find that his partner Agent K (Jones) has been dead for more than 40 years. It turns out that evil alien Boris (Clement) has travelled back to 1969 to stop K from capturing him so he can conquer Earth. So J has little choice but to follow him. First, he must convince new boss O (Thompson) to let him go, and then he has to explain everything to the younger K (Brolin) and work with another alien (Stuhlbarg) who can see multiple futures.

Sonnenfeld recaptures the atmosphere with striking sets, witty camerawork and Danny Elfman's iconic score. But Smith and Jones' chemistry in the early scenes feels oddly strained, as if they can't quite remember that snappy rhythm but are carrying on out of loyalty. Everything about the film feels similarly softer around the edges. There are some hilarious moments and sublimely silly asides, but the film never shifts into full-speed.

This is partly because the plot is deeply convoluted: there's a lot happening, but none of it gains traction. To keep us intrigued, screenwriter Cohen withholds key details far too long while setting up each plot point in painfully obvious ways. With each scene in the first act, there's something presented that we know will pay off later. So there aren't really any surprises, besides a couple of startlingly emotional sequences at the end.

As a result, the rushed climax isn't terribly suspenseful. Still, the cast keeps us smiling. While there isn't enough of Thompson (or Eve as the younger O), Brolin is wonderful as the young K, channelling Jones' mannerisms with a smart twist. And Stuhlbarg's nutty role is a lot of fun as well. In the end, the actors, the visual design and effects keep our eyes happy (even with the utterly the pointless 3D). We get our money's worth. But nothing more.

cert pg themes, language, violence 21.May.12

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