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Columbia Pictures

Men in Black III

Movies | Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones resume their roles as intergalactic crime fighters

Issue: "Effective Compassion," June 16, 2012

Early in MIB III, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) pontificates, "You know how I live such a happy life? I don't ask questions I don't want to know the answers to." And for movie-goers who want to enjoy this blast from the past, that's not a bad mantra.

Agents K and J (Will Smith) here resume their roles as intergalactic crime fighters. When a Boglodite named Boris the Animal escapes from prison, he sets out to revenge himself on Agent K, the one who sent him to prison and cost him his arm. Boris also plans to enact an alien invasion by disrupting the shield put in place by Agent K during the Apollo 11 lunar launch. With the help of a techno-whiz, Boris time-travels to 1969 and accomplishes both aims by killing younger Agent K (Josh Brolin). Agent J's mission, then, is to jump back in time a day earlier, preempt Boris, protect his partner and save the species.

Despite hit-or-miss writing, Will Smith brings a larger-than-life quality to his role, and Josh Brolin's understated acting keeps the partners' humorous banter intact. The 1969 setting lends the story depth as well. Agents K and J visit Andy Warhol's studio, The Factory, where colorful characters abound. And for viewers nostalgic for NASA spaceflight, the lunar launch creates a rich backdrop for a different kind of space race.

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As for those questions you shouldn't ask, here are a few: Why isn't Agent K's emotional crisis resolved? Ditto on the romantic involvement with Agent O (Emma Thompson). And per the logic of time travel, when the cause of Agent K's dysfunction is revealed, why can't they go back in time and fix that problem too? It's not like his DeLorean is out of gas.

Most disappointing, though, is the sexually suggestive filmography (i.e., close-up of a woman's chest) and repeated cursing. In addition to the sci-fi violence of its PG-13 rating, these unexpected negatives mar what could have been an imperfect but family-friendly film.

Emily Whitten
Emily Whitten

Emily reviews books and movies for WORLD and is a contributor at She homeschools her two children and sees books through the eyes of a mother.


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