Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writers: Lowell Cunningham (comic), David Koepp (screenplay)
Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin
Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Comedy
MPAA: Rated PG-13
Synopsis: Agent J travels back in time to prevent Agent K from being assassinated and to stop an invasion of planet Earth.
The film quickly establishes the villain for the film and his need for revenge against Agent K. Agent J and Agent K continue to have their same conversational banter that we’ve seen in the previous films but this time there is a secret that K is keeping from J. That secret is brought to light after hearing of the main villain’s escape from prison. This secret is something that is obviously haunting K and becomes a piece of the plot that keeps the audience’s interest in the film. At the time the secret is introduced, the villain is using a device that will allow him to travel back in time to kill Agent K and also inevitably doom planet Earth. Agent J is sent to stop this villain and save the world while discovering the secrets of Agent K’s past along the way.
Agent J is the same character that we’ve loved from the previous films. Will Smith always plays the role of comic relief well, mixing in the bits of drama where they are needed. Although Agent J is the primary character throughout the films, the more interesting role is Agent K because of the secrets surrounding him and the fact that he is played by two great actors. Tommy Lee Jones has the role of the introduction and the closing for Agent K while Josh Brolin gets the role of defining Agent K. This gives Agent K’s character a sense of duality with characteristics that tie both versions of K together and subtle intended differences that separate them apart. Brolin’s performance is spot on. While the audience may get a laugh from seeing and hearing Tommy Lee Jones’ mannerisms and vocal diction acted out through Brolin, the dramatic moments are there as well making it easy to see Brolin as a younger Jones.
The relationship between J and K is strengthened by J getting to know K’s past self and learn more about why he turned out the way that he did. Both characters develop a deeper understanding for one another as the mysteries of K begin to unravel and J becomes more accepting. As they team up in the past to hunt the main villain, there are many reminiscent moments of how they worked together in the first film. The initial taking of J’s gun from K, the calm and collected manner of K versus J’s take action now attitude, and K’s subtle agitation with J are all moments from the first film that are renewed in this one.
The setting of the film is a very dynamic one dealing with time travel. The special effects are very smooth and work well with the 3D effect. The time travel sequence shows New York City rapidly changing between past and present which makes a very unique backdrop for time traveling versus the usual “portal effect” or white light backdrop that is common in other time travel films. The 1960s setting is also done very well. The cars, the people, the clothing, and even some of the camera shots themselves have that 60s feel to them. A recurring joke throughout the film is the lack of technology when it comes to commonly used gadgets such as their vehicles and the standard issue neuralizer. You will often hear a wisecrack from Agent J when it comes to using this technology. I thought the 1960s setting provided a welcomed variation from the first film unlike Men In Black II. Getting to see the agents work in a different environment while still applying elements of the first film made this film a much more worthy sequel than the previous film.
I would not say that this film was better than the first film but it was definitely better than the second. This film was a proper sequel because it focused on character development, properly continuing the franchise. We discovered more about Agent J and Agent K which brought some added humor but more importantly brought some deeper dramatic moments. You have the usual theme of preventing planetary destruction but the true purpose of this film was character development. It brought a solid closure to the franchise by completing the circle of the main characters’ relationship. The film had a great mix of comedy sprinkled with the right amount of drama and was a welcomed addition to the first film.
A welcomed addition to the Men In Black franchise.