Men in Black 3, M, 106 minutes
Often a movie will start with a hiss and a roar then fizzle (Super 8) or build steadily and end with a pearler (Se7en). The third Men in Black dawdles, kicks into life about halfway through a nice idea, hesitates some more, only to end with a clever, surprisingly touching revelation. It's tempting to believe it was written back to front.
Front-ways, however, there's an awful lot of blather to get through before you get to the cool idea: that Agent J (Will Smith) must travel to 1969 to save the life of his partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), and find out "What happened to you man?" The first of the trilogy was of course completely driven by a great idea – that the world was full of undercover aliens being policed by men in dark suits with serious technology. Men in Black II, now a decade old, lost the plot. Once the central premise was revealed it could only pile on the "guess who's an alien?" gags. Unhumorously. MIB3, also directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, has more going for it.
J has to travel back in time to save K from Boris's clutches, and much is made of the vertigo-inducing leap needed to get there. The 60s look predictably, but not intrusively, groovy.
Jemaine Clement is arch-villain Boris in present and past, though tragically he has little more to do than a well-enunciated growl while leaping around in a cartoonish fashion. Nicole Scherzinger has a walk-on role as Boris's girlfriend, or rather her cleavage does. Thankfully, she doesn't hang around.
But the best find of MIB3 is Josh Brolin, a woefully underestimated actor who ventriloquises Jones's character as a young man so well that you forget it isn't him – and keeps Jones off screen, never a good thing. Brolin reveals K was once a more playful, humorous fellow who may have had a thing with new boss O (Emma Thompson), and his chemistry with Smith is great, though the aliens they must battle slow rather than speed the plot.
Brolin's do or die role to save the world gets us to that big reveal and almost certainly guarantees a fourth in the series.
- Sunday Star Times