Like the slowly blowing tumbleweed that whistles through the dilapidated small Texas town
Like the slowly
blowing tumbleweed that whistles through the dilapidated small Texas town in Peter
Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show, almost every single ‘joke’ in MIB 3 falls
on that very same deathly and harrowing silence.
As many now in there early to mid-20s will remember, the
very first Men In Black was a
touchstone post-modern sci-fi comedy, equivalent in cult status to Wes Craven’s post-modern horror hit Scream. With a plethora of endlessly
quotable lines, grotesque nasties, a broad poking of myths surrounding UFOs and
even a pop song to boot, MIB was a phenomenon. Unlike Scream, a franchise by-product
that stemmed from its own financial success but at least maintained a level of
creativity, the MIB franchise is now hollow and lazy.
Written from what feels like a knock-off Back To The Future script, Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back to their old
tricks. But when an old foe of K’s escapes Moon prison and goes back in time to
assassinate him, J must stop him from changing history. Stop us if you’ve heard
this one before. Sent back to
1969, J must save his partner and put everything right before Earth is
destroyed by yet another vengeful alien species.
Unlike the first instalment, which had a truly vile villain
that seemed like a mutated cousin of Cronenberg’s The Fly, bad guy Boris the Animal is the Gustav Graves mould of
villain. It’s hard to believe that underneath all that costume and make-up is
one half of comic duo Flight of the
Conchords, Jemaine Clement. A
master at delivering dry, stone-faced humour, here he is little more than a
sterile puppet. Other noticeable faces include pop star Nicole Scherzinger, whose only requirement is to be the obligatory
walking tits before being brutally dispensed with. Somehow you get the sense
she originally had a bigger part to play – no pun intended – before someone
realised she couldn’t act.
One saving grace however, is Josh Brolin’s younger K. Brolin has all the little vocal tendencies
and intonations that Tommy Lee Jones has brought to the character and a
startling physical resemblance. If it were not for Brolin’s brilliance MIB 3
would be a real snoozer.
15 years removed from the original, this third instalment in
no way feels like an extension of what made the first film so popular. Rather,
MIB 3 has the air of a corporate product being recycled because of its
bankability. Smith and Jones are always watchable as the bickering, mismatched
J and K, but, in destroying the perfect arc of the first movie – hacked to bits
is K’s pining to return to civilization and to the girl he loves – this feels
like a wheezing, limping athlete who should have retired whilst he was at his
Unfortunately neuralizers aren’t at the ready on the way out
to help you forget that part 2 and 3 ever existed.