Does the role of Agent J allow Will Smith to be cool, or is it Smith’s coolness that makes the role? Either way, Smith’s reprising his role as Agent J seems to have restored some of the Fresh Prince mojo that seems to have been lacking from recent roles (which have tended to be on the serious side). Men In Black III shows how a role can be a lot more fun when it’s written intentionally for Smith to play that smart mouthed, cocky persona that we’re used to seeing from him. Tommy Lee Jones also returns as the curmudgeonly straight-man, Agent K, who acts as foil to Smith’s comedic riffing.
The basic plot of this movie is simple: the Agents need to apprehend an escaped alien from the moon’s Luna Max prison. What complicates it is that K and the alien (played by a near unrecognizable Jemaine Clement — his voice gave him away) have a history (K shot off the guy’s arm and sent him away) and the big baddie is eager to take revenge by going back in time to kill K before his younger self loses the limb. Thankfully Jones was not subjected to a digital facelift (a la Benjamin Button) to play himself in the 60s. Instead, Josh Brolin stepped into the role of the younger K. I’m really glad, too because Brolin was so convincing as a younger version of Jones’s character that throughout the movie I often forgot that he was being played by a different actor.
Along for the ride (or more precisely, hanging in the background) are a galaxy of alien ex-pats: some that look like frogs, others who look like fish. One of them was a Chinese restaurant owner by day, many armed worm-creature by night. The make-up and prosthetics made them all look great. (Thankfully, we didn’t spend much time with the coffee-loving jokester worms from the previous movies.) Another fixture of the MiB office was Emma Thompson as the MiB head honcho Q (who had the most interesting, albeit non-alien, hairstyle in the movie).
Time-travel is always a good way to add geek-friendly complexity to the movie–they even made the time jump into an exciting action sequence. Because of this theme, there was an echo to similar movies such as the seminal Back To The Future. Another thing that added a nice touch (some would argue plot-device) was an alien ally capable of seeing in all time periods simultaneously. It was even actually a little poignant to understand his torment at seeing all possible timelines, but not knowing which one he was living until events unfolded. This side-plot led to a somewhat tear-jerking twist at the end which gave me a little lump in my throat, even. All around this was an enjoyable, fun movie and it was nice to see Will Smith back to form (4 out of 5)