I miss Men in Black movies. I’m well aware that Men in Black: International came out pretty recently (2019), but anybody who has actually seen it can tell you that that wasn’t MIB. At least, not the MIB that we came to know and love back in the late ‘90s, early 2000s, with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. No, the last true MIB came out in 2012, and that was Men In Black 3.
That feels like forever ago. The Men in Black franchise that I know and love is all about cool aliens and witty back-and-forth banter between Will Smith and whomever else he was paired up with. In other words, it was all about chemistry. The most recent MIB seemed to miss that point. But Men in Black 3, with its time traveling Agent J (Will Smith) going back to meet a younger Agent K (played by Josh Brolin), was the last time that we really got that classic MIB feel. That’s just one reason why I love the third movie. And here (Come the Men in Black) are five more.
Oh, and some spoilers up ahead.
Josh Brolin Makes For An Amazing Younger Version Of Agent K
Honestly, it’s kind of hard to surpass the first Men in Black. The relationship between Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K and Will Smith’s Agent J is just the epitome of he’s-the serious-one, and-I’m-the-funny-one comedy that I’ve loved ever since the Lethal Weapon franchise. Men in Black II lost something by having Agent K without his memory for most of the movie, but MIB 3 made up for it by pairing Will Smith with a much younger Agent K in Josh Brolin, so that we got an Agent K similar to the one we encountered in the first movie.
Let me tell you, Josh Brolin’s Tommy Lee Jones impression is spot on. Brolin is a magnificent actor, having played everybody from George W. Bush in W, to Thanos, but I think it’s pretty extraordinary for him to do an impersonation of an actor, and hold it up through the entirety of the movie. Josh Brolin’s no nonsense, steely glare made it feel like a legitimate sequel to the first Men in Black, because it was like I was watching Tommy Lee Jones all over again, and that is no small feat.
I Love The Time Travel Storyline
The first Men in Black was really fun, and the time travel story in Men in Black 3 is almost as fun as the story we got in the first movie. It’s the classic, go back in time and kill your enemy storyline, as a character named Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) is going back in time to kill Agent K before he can become a problem, and Agent J is going back in time to meet up with a younger version of his partner.
But, we get a lot of silly back in time jokes, like an appearance by Andy Warhol (Bill Hader), and a young version of Agent O, who debuts in this picture, but is also in Men in Black: International. Sure, Boris the Animal is no the Bug, played by Vincent D’Onofrio in the first movie, but the fun is still there, and the film has its heart in the right place by going back in the past. There are some easy Apollo 11 references in there, but why not, right? If you’re going to make this a period piece, then really go for it, and MIB 3 does so with gusto.
Will Smith Looked Like He Was Having Fun Again
I don’t know if you remember Will Smith back in 2012, but he was on a serious drama kick at the time. It really started with 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness, but it continued with 2007’s I Am Legend, and 2008’s Seven Pounds. Sure, he fit Hancock in that eclectic filmography of his, but even that film was kind of dour and not really what I would consider fun. In truth, the fun Will Smith that we saw in blockbusters like Independence Day, Bad Boys, and (one of my guilty pleasures) Wild Wild West seemed to be an actor of the past.
Men in Black 3 was kind of a last hurrah of the Will Smith of old who could be the coolest guy in the room, but also the funniest. Through his antics in MIB 3, he looks like he’s actually having fun again in a movie rather than dropping tears or killing dogs. Sure, Will Smith would later go back to doing serious affairs like Concussion down the line. But, the same Will Smith we see in Men in Black 3 later lent his voice to a pigeon in Spies in Disguise, and became the live-action version of the genie in Aladdin. So, Men in Black 3 was a glimmer of hope that the fun Will Smith was still in there, somewhere.
It Was A Return To Form After The Somewhat Disappointing Second Movie
I know there are probably fans of 2002’s Men in Black II, but I am not one of them. A lot of it feels like a chore to watch, since Agent J is trying to get Agent K back into MIB after wiping his mind in the first movie. And like, that could have been cool if it was done right, but for some reason, MIB II feels like it was done wrong.
It’s not as funny as the first movie, and having Agent K essentially be a different person than he was in the first movie didn’t do the film any favors. I actually went back and watched all three movies over again before I watched Men in Black: International, and I found myself checking my phone almost the entire movie. That’s not good!
But, MIB 3 feels like the sequel we should have gotten after the first movie. It retains the humor of the first film, and most importantly, it has Agent J interacting with Agent K again, albeit, a younger version, for the most part. When I watched MIB 3 again, I was thoroughly invested all the way through, and it rekindled my love for the franchise. If only Men in Black: International was better…
It's A Nice Bookend For Tommy Lee Jones And Will Smith, Agents K and J, Respectively
Lastly, Men in Black 3 is a nice ending to the MIB franchise. And yes, I know that Men in Black: International is, so far, the last film in the series, but I consider the first three movies as a trilogy, and Men in Black: International as a spin-off of sorts. This is kind of like how I view Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Not part of the original trilogy, but like a fever dream or, better yet, like it never happened. Honestly, I really just don’t like The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I’m sorry.
Back to Men in Black 3! Once everything is tidied up with Young Boris the Animal, we see young K neuralyze a kid Agent J before J became an agent, and we learn that Agent K has really been Agent J’s guardian angel ever since he was a child. This is a really sweet and interesting turn of events that strangely reminds me of 12 Monkeys, which I didn’t put a spoiler for at the beginning of this paragraph, so you’ll just have to watch that movie if you want to get what I mean there.
Are you a big Men in Black fan like me who loves the third movie in the series? Or, do you just love Will Smith movies in general? However you feel, make sure you stop by here often!
Lover of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue people), video games, and anything 90s, he will talk your ear off about Godzilla, so don't get him started.
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