Main cast: Will Smith (Agent J), Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K), Josh Brolin (Agent K in 1969), Jemaine Clement (Boris the Animal), Emma Thompson (Agent O), Michael Stuhlbarg (Griffin), David Rasche (Agent X), Michael Chernus (Jeffrey Price), Mike Colter (Colonel James Darrell Edwards II), Nicole Scherzinger (Lilly Poison), Keone Young (Mr Wu), Bill Hader (Andy Warhol/Agent W), David Pittu (Roman the Fabulist), and Lanny Flaherty (Obadiah Price)
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Agents J and K are back, showing the world that it is always practical and smart to go alien-busting in suits. Their relationship is still the same: J talks a lot, K doesn’t, and J thinks K is being unnecessarily distant while K would just wish J would hush. Well, their mutual adoration of one another gets interrupted by Agent K’s old enemy, Boris the Animal, breaks out of prison and goes back in time so that he would kill K before K succeeds in cutting off his hand and apprehending him.
Boris succeeds too well, and Agent K is now dead. Just before he finally agrees to open up to Agent J about the secrets of the universe too, poor thing. Agent J is apparently the only realizing who realizes that something is wrong, as everyone else tells him that poor Agent K died while trying to take on Boris back in 1969. Worse, Boris manages to somehow arrange for an invasion of Earth by his mean people. Agent J has to go back in time to save K, stop Boris, and save the world. How hard can this be? Well, let’s just say it’s hard enough to fill up a movie.
I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie, especially considering how I didn’t when it comes to the previous movie. There are some amusing and clever scenes here, and the playful “alien-ification” of pop culture elements like Andy Warhol and the Rolling Stones end up actually pretty funny. Josh Brolin really nailed his role as the younger and more go-for-it, less weary K and this Agent K’s relationship dynamic with Agent J bring some much-needed humor and the occasional poignant scene to this movie.
The only drawbacks are Will Smith’s smooth-talking shtick, which has become played out by this point, and the irritating character of Griffin. I guess Griffin is some kind of parody of the “magic homeless Yoda hobo” stereotype? The movie doesn’t even pretend that Griffin is a convenient plot device to provide convenient information and solutions to our Agents. However, this character looks annoying and says some of the cheesiest lines known to mankind. The twist at the end is nice, but kind of implausible. I mean, that kid in the vehicle just happens to be there? Oh, please.
Incidentally, this movie is best treated as a standalone instead of a continuation of the previous movies, because once again Agent K gets another “the grand love that melts his heart, not that he wants to talk about it” subplot, making me wonder just how many great loves this man has. The frequency of his falling in love deeply and madly cheapens these relationships. Agent J’s character growth is similarly stunted in all three movies, but at least he doesn’t get to have his heartbreaks trivialized in every movie.
While it lacks the novelty of the first movie, Men in Black 3 is a massive improvement over the previous installment. It’s also a fun movie in its own right, definitely worth a watch on a slow day.