Josh Brolin, left, and Will Smith in a scene from 'Men in Black III.' / Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures-Sony
‘Men in Black III’
Three stars (out of four)
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Three stars (out of four)
Will Smith is as charming as ever, but it’s Josh Brolin, as the young Tommy Lee Jones, who steals “Men in Black III.”
Brolin, as Agent K at, er, 29, is wryly funny, as befitting his future craggy self. He channels Jones’ mannerisms, nails his Texan drawl and even rather eerily resembles the actor, approximating the signature steely glance that seems to reach right through people. With his low-key delivery, it’s not hard to imagine that this more amiable fellow could grow into the surly and enigmatic secret agent played by Jones.
Other supporting parts are memorably quirky, in particular arch-villain Boris the Animal, played with a zestful Tim Curry quality by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement and “A Serious Man’s” Michael Stuhlbarg as a nebbishy, knowing alien named Griffin.
A top secret corps of agents who monitor alien activity — working in collaboration with extraterrestrial good guys and fending off the nefarious ones — is a clever conceit, as presented in the original film a decade and a half ago.
This spirited three-quel comes close to the exuberance of the first “Men in Black,” and is a distinct improvement over its limp 2002 follow-up. By filling in the blanks of the back stories of both Agents J (Smith) and K (Jones), it opens up a new era — the late ’60s — which provides plenty of fodder for alien jokes and comedy. It also adds an unexpectedly poignant element to the saga.
Agent J goes back in time when his tight-lipped partner’s life is put in jeopardy by the nasty Boris, a space prison escapee. Boris finds a way to time-travel in order to exterminate the agent who imprisoned him.
A befuddled J is plunged fish-out-of-water style into the summer of 1969. As with other films featuring time travel, some logic is questionable. But “MiB3” has fun with the unwieldy elements, inventing its own absurd rules and cleverly mocking the fact that a 44-year-old Brolin is playing a 29-year-old Agent K.
While this third go-round may not seem necessary amid summer’s blockbusters, it’s an entertaining jaunt back in time with the likably mismatched duo.
Will Smith is as charming as ever, but it's Josh Brolin, as the young Tommy Lee Jones, who steals 'Men in Black III.' Brolin, as Agent K at, er, 29, is wryly funny, as befitting his future craggy
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