‘Men in Black III’ is a more accomplished and enjoyable movie than it has any right to be, especially given the instantly forgettable second installment and the myriad of potential catastrophes that plagued the production of this latest chapter.
At the most basic level, it’s nice to see a summer action movie that’s pleasantly mild and doesn’t assault you. But mild doesn’t imply laziness in this case due to an interesting time travel premise that brings out great comic and cosmic possibilities in otherwise familiar material. Sonnenfeld’s camera always seemed well suited to the 3-D format, and it really pops here in the sequence where Agent J (Will Smith) must leap from the Chrysler Building in order to enter another dimension in 1969. It’s there where he meets the young version of Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) played by Josh Brolin in a dead-on (and deadpan) performance that manages to transcend mere impersonation. Brolin is a high point, of course, as is the supremely gifted Michael Shtulbarg in a terrifically realized supporting role.
Perhaps what’s most surprising about this installment of the franchise is the emotionally potent resolution, which expresses a depth of character that hadn’t been mined in the previous films.