A decade away from the movie scene has given the Men In Black series a chance at a fresher, newer perspective. Taking its cue from Shrek Forever After, MIB 3 takes on a tired concept (time travel in this case) if only to acknowledge the failure of its dull sequel and take us back to a different era allowing us to view the franchise from an unsullied angle. The result is a film that returns to its roots and gives audiences the chance to relive much of what they first enjoyed – a smart, sci-fi, buddy comedy that embraces everything weird and wonderful about the unknown universe.
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In his first cinematic role in nearly 4 years, Will Smith’s Agent J is the usual charming, witty wiseass we expect him to be. Still teamed up with the laconic Agent K (wrinkly Tommy Lee Jones) he is no closer to cracking his older partners deadpan demeanour but their relationship issues take a back seat when a nemesis from Kay’s past, Boris the animal, turns up to exact revenge for having been imprisoned on the moon 40 years ago. His elaborate plan takes him back in the past, to the day he was caught, and sets ripples in the present, where K no longer exists and a different reality results. J has to then literally time jump (off the Empire State building no less) and fix the past for normalcy to return in the present.
Directly Barry Sonnenfeld seems to find his groove once again with the zany and icky shenanigans that put him on the map with the original. Using plenty of the wide angle camera work that gave him fame as the Coen’s favourite lenser, the resulting imagery should work wonders for those who decide to pay extra and catch the film on 3D (converted). Boris the animal is also a return to series villains being screwball and menacing in equal measure (remember Vincent D’Onofrio?) and Rick Baker’s excellent makeup effects are both incredible and revolting. The big surprise is how well Josh Brolin impersonates Jones in the role of a younger K – which should not be a surprise considering Brolin’s recent, impressive body of work as a bonafide actor, most notably in W. So chameleon-like is his performance that you forget it’s him and actually completely believe it’s just a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones that you’re seeing.
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The films primary achievement and a true signal of its return to form though are the scenes set in the past. Not only is Josh Brolin a deadringer for Tommy Lee’s K during his youth, but the hip musical vibes of the late 60′s/early 70′s allow for plenty of playfulness to ensue with a particularly hilarious segment devoted to Andy Warhol. If that isn’t enough, everything very neatly ties into another epochal scientific moment from that time period and ends on a moment of curiously satisfying emotionality that provides not only closure to the film but the series as a whole. If that doesn’t make you forgive all the wrongs that the sequel did and embrace this film as one of the years better movie franchise offerings the only thing that might work on you is a neuralizer.