With MIB International hitting theaters this weekend we’re taking a look at MIB 3.
MIB lagged a bit after the second entry in the series, having felt like a slightly weaker copy of the original film. The third entry in the series made up for what the second film lacked by giving Agent J a unique mission that sent him back in time. While time travel can lead to confusing elements for some stories, MIB 3 uses the plot device to give the franchise a breath of fresh air. In the process we get a film that is just as fun as the original, with more weight than the second film.
The plot of MIB 3 centers on Agent J going back in time to prevent an evil alien known as Boris the Animal when he jumps back in time to kill Agent K. J has less than 48 hours to stop Boris, save K, and in doing so, save the Earth from total destruction. The stakes are elevated, as J isn’t just saving the world, he’s trying to save a character we’ve come to care deeply about after two films in the can. The film also succeeds by giving us a fresh take on what an adventure in the universe of MIB could look like. We get a wider scope here, and in doing so, it helps to close out a solid trilogy of films.
One of the best elements of the film is Josh Brolin as the younger Agent K. Brolin does an amazing job at playing the character without the performance being a caricature of Tommy Lee Jones. We can understand the growth of the character of K past this adventure and how he went from a slightly more lighthearted guy to the stone cold partner J knows him as. Smith and Brolin’s chemistry is a highlight as well, matching up just as perfectly as Smith does with Jones.
Will Smith’s performance as J is truly at its peak in this entry. His portrayal of J in the first film is what made it a box office smash and a film treasured for years afterwards. While the story for his character in MIB 2 weighed things down a bit, this time his story gives the film more heart than the first two films. Smith plays the subtleties of the character extremely well, giving off the tone of trying to connect with K because he’s like a father figure, without ever fully explaining that. He tries throughout the film to connect with both versions of K “because they’re partners,” but as the film continues on, you begin to realize there’s more weight to his desire to connect than that.
When the film comes to its slightly heartbreaking conclusion, we realize that J has good reason to connect with K. The film does an excellent job of getting to that point. There are clues to the film’s final twist laid out throughout the entire film, but it never gives us enough to connect the dots until the last moment. It’s the type of storytelling that when done wrong can feel forced or make no sense at all, but the slow burn throughout makes it fit perfectly within this crazy MIB world.
MIB 3 makes me yearn for another film in the franchise with these characters–one that sees Agents J and K trying to stop some alien threat. Not even one that has to mean the world’s destruction. It could be something fun and small, but meaningful. Sadly, the series appears to be moving on without them given the story for MIB International. Whether either of the original leads appear in major cameos is unclear for now, but it would be nice to see them for even a moment.
No matter what, we at least have the original trilogy to look back on. Even with the slight drop for MIB 2, the films and the trilogy are without a doubt three of the most entertaining and fun films of the past 25 years. It’ll be interesting to see where the series moves on from here as it begins to travel the globe. Hopefully the new film will continue the fun that these three films have had. We’ll find out for sure this weekend.