Men In Black 3

By on

Despite being nothing more than a flawed nostalgia exercise, JIM ROSS reckons there's enough here to make you want to suit up with Will Smith and co again

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld


Nostalgia is rarely an unequivocally good thing in cinema. Revisiting old favourites after a long absence has rarely proven fruitful. The hallways of multiplexes are probably still littered with ticket stubs for disappointing and late-to-the-party blockbuster sequels such as Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Scream 4 and the like. Against better judgment, however, Barry Sonnenfeld and company have decided to give us a third Men In Black film 10 whole years after they tired everybody out with the second installment.

The plot is complex. It hinges on Agent J (Will Smith) needing to go back in time and save the life of Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), who has been killed by a former adversary, Boris ‘the Animal’, whilst travelling back in time to avenge his previous maiming and imprisonment by K in 1969. In 1969, J and the younger K (Josh Brolin) must help save Earth from an invasion (handily tied in) in the ‘future’ by finding and killing Boris, played by an absolutely unrecognisable Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords.

The time-travel plot seems odd at first glance, but is actually a clever way of injecting some life into the J/K dynamic and the film as a whole. Josh Brolin is pitch perfect as the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones, keeping the character familiar through his capturing of Jones’s essence and voice, but allowing new ground to be explored. In addition, pitching a confident young black man into the racially-tense 1969 setting affords some good, and otherwise unavailable, joke opportunities.

Not all of it works – the whole film feels slightly flat and still lacking the energy and inventive humour of the original, and the time-travel elements introduce plot holes the size of Will Smith’s ego in the (unfinished at time of filming) script. Clement’s role requires him to do little more than growl and shout. In a world where millions watch Mad Men, for the 1969 setting, you would also perhaps expect more in terms of production design from a film with a budget of $375 million – MiB3’s 1969 is a lot closer to that of Austin Powers.

A rather expensive and flawed exercise in late-90s nostalgia this may be, but it delivers enough humour, action and even pathos come the final reel to make it worth watching. The performance of Brolin, screen presence of Smith and the unexpectedly heartwarming finale make this an apt conclusion, going some way to forgiving the team for the dreadful 2002 sequel.

Sonnenfeld and company have done a perfectly acceptable job here, but it might be advisable for them grab one of those neuralysers and erase memories of the franchise so they’re not tempted back again.


  • Radike Samo

    Fitz beat Johns at rugby

  • Jack D. Ripper

    Don't worry Tommy Lee Jones, I'll get your essence back from Brolin even if I have to nuke the commie bastard…

  • More like

    men in COCK. hahahahahahahaha

  • carlton

    Seems a fair review, will take more than one 3/5 movie to forgive Will Smith for Men in black 2 tho

  • MacFarlane
  • GeorgeCliftonBizzle

    I like this. well i would like it more if it was 'women in black'. and by that i mean 'black woman'. and by that i mean 'the black woman i shagged in amsterdam'.

  • Toy Story 3

    was a good sequel after a long break…

    • Buzz

      Exceptions don't go against a general trend

  • Prabhu

    And the midnight false fire alarms in the winter. Wonderful experience though, if I think about it now. And you missed out the Manchester Aquatics centre and Sudgen sports centre just a fews steps from Grosvenor.

  • Laurryna

    I remember the fire alarm being 10am (not 11) every Wednesday. When I lived there (2001-2) Wednesday was my day off so my target was always to get up when the fire alarm went off!

Heard something newsworthy?

By on

Vote Now: Cambridge’s Best Bums 2015

All bums are equal, but some are more equal than others. Help us choose which ones.

By on

Why do girls love calling each other sluts?

The week 8 ADC late show ‘Girls Like That’ follows a group of girls and explores the toxic, social-media dominated world we grow up in.

By on

Oxford captain RULED OUT for Varsity match happening in 11 DAYS

With very little time to go, Cambridge gets a massive boost

By , Contributing Editor on

All things considered, doing DofE Gold is quite weird

So many blisters

By on

London’s plubs are the best thing about UK nightlife right now

(It’s a pub and a club mixed together)

By , Contributing Editor on

We asked guys whether they prefer thongs or french knickers

The finer things in life

By , Chief Reporter on

Your gluten free diet is killing the wheat industry

Bread just makes me bloat

By , Chief Reporter on

How to get into a Boiler Room DJ set

There are a few options

By , Head of Marketing on

There’s just something about girls who DJ

They exude coolness