“Men in Black 3” jumps back in time to find a new direction

Does the world really need yet another even more convoluted CGI-laden “Men in Black” sequel? As Agent K keeps repeating throughout this newest MIB film, “Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to.”

In “Men in Black 3” we find Will Smith‘s streetwise Agent J and Tommy Lee Jones‘ curmudgeonly Agent K still working “alien control and cleanup” for that top-secret government agency hidden inside of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel Ventilator Building. Monitoring the activities of naughty extraterrestrials residing on our planet may have become a somewhat routine job for the Neuralyzer-packing partners, but things are about to change in a big way.

That night an alien criminal, one big bad boy named Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), escapes from the Lunar Max high-security prison where Agent K put him some 43 years ago and time travels to the 1960s to eliminate K in the past, thus erasing K in the present. Back in the present, Agent J wakes up the next morning to discover that only he has any memory of his grouchy but beloved partner of the last 15 years, and so must time leap back to the 1960s himself to make things right again.

Jemaine Clement as creepy villain Boris the Animal in “Men in Black 3.” Photo credit: Sony Pictures

Got all that? Okay then, back in 1969 J meets and teams up with the younger pre-death version of K (Josh Brolin), crashes the never-ending party at Andy Warhol’s hip New York City studio The Factory looking for clues, gets to ride some cool-looking if improbable CGI Monobikes, and delivers the required number of witty and quotable one-liners. Along the way he discovers the surprising reason why the present-day K happens to be so incredibly uptight, but eventually manages to save his partner and the day anyway. Oh, and there’s pie!

Josh Brolin as a less age-challenged Agent K in “Men in Black 3.” Photo credit: Sony Pictures

“Men in Black 3” certainly outshines its disappointing predecessor, and comes close to the level of the first film primarily due to some pitch perfect casting. Brolin rocks his role as the younger Agent K, so much so that you almost forget that he’s not a young Tommy Lee Jones. Plus, this film is so stuffed full of action that its easy to forget that the twisty plot doesn’t make all that much sense. It’s far more fun to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The biggest surprise of this film is that by creating a detailed history for Agents J and K, “Men in Black 3” adds a new and unexplored direction to the franchise: the past. There’s certainly sufficient room to grow in this direction should Smith and Jones feel like putting on those black suits one more time. I just hope they kept Josh Brolin’s phone number.

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