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Men in Black 3 | reviews, news & interviews

Men in Black 3

Men in Black 3

Third time unlucky as Smith and Jones add Brolin to the mix

Wearying of the task? Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) go through the motions one (last?) time

J + K = zzzzzzz in this snooze-inducing latest instalment of the once-fun Men in Black franchise, which finds Tommy Lee Jones looking as pained as Will Smith does fretful, and who can blame them? Long in the making but limited in terms of rewards, Barry Sonnenfeld's film doesn't display much conviction for the story it wants to tell (and certainly has no reason to go the all-too-ubiquitous 3D route).

Some will applaud the insertion of a Brit (Emma Thompson, of all people) into events and others may relish a villain who reads like the love child of Mickey Rourke and Russell Brand, but the movie is too daft even to generate much anger. As for the soppy conclusion, since when did Men in Black get all sentimental on us? Who put this thing together: aliens? 

Or maybe it's just the prevailing penchant for back stories that impelled screenwriter Etan Cohen to rewind the clock so that Smith's Agent J spends much of the film in 1969 doing his best to save the life of the young Agent K, while we ponder the hitherto unremarked realisation that, yes, Josh Brolin really does suggest a younger Tommy Lee Jones, to cite both the franchise newbie and the veteran who share that role. All that's needed is Kirk Douglas, say, to project K into the pension-eligible future and you'd have a male chorus line of initials (though I'm not sure about the associations evoked by KKK). 

Jemaine ClementThe malefactor prompting J's derring-do is a snarling, multi-clawed creature called Boris (Jemaine Clement, pictured right) who needs to be routed before he can alter the course of alien-bashing history. The chosen setting for the face-off between Boris and Brolin's square-jawed appropriation of Jones (minus a decade or three) happens to be Florida in the run-up to the Apollo 11 space mission. You might think the film would have a good time imposing a cool cat like Smith's shades-wearing J on a rural American milieu that is so, well, alien to him in the big-city here and now. And you'd be wrong. 

The preposterousness of the governing conceit aside, MIB3 offers further room for rumination, at least among those wondering which of England's budding film starlets best evokes a youthful Emma Thompson. (Drumroll please: Alice Eve.) And one can only imagine the between-take banter involving not just Smith and Jones but fellow Coen brothers' alumnus, Michael Stuhlbarg, the terrific New York theater actor who starred three years ago on screen in A Serious Man. Don't bother looking for Frances McDormand among the Coen regulars on apparent sabbatical here from art. A deadpan Thompson aside, female pride of place in Sonnenfeld's view of things goes to Nicole Scherzinger, who sashays into view within minutes of the start only to vanish soon after for keeps.

Stuhlbarg, for his part, appears in a woolen cap, eyes beaming with an intensity rivaled only by Cillian Murphy, to purr lines like, "where there is death, there will always be death" and, later, "the truth is the only path". (Or was that, "the truth is the only truth"?) Playing an extraterrestrial called Griffin who can see multiple versions of the future, the actor manages to field those moments when the film turns all self-consciously meta or, worse, faux-schmaltzy. But even he can't account for the pro forma nature of an enterprise that presumably is now a spent force. After all, if the material can't make it to one dimension, what's the point in trying for three? 

Watch the trailer for Men in Black 3


All that's needed is Kirk Douglas, say, to project Agent K into the pension-eligible future and you'd have a male chorus line of initials: KKK


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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