Third time lucky and loopy

A su­pe­rior se­quel breaks out the Neu­r­a­lyzer to help fans for­get the sec­ond MIB, writes Lou Lu­menick of The New York Post

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

OR a very be­lated, ob­scenely ex­pen­sive sec­ond se­quel no­body – ex­cept ac­coun­tants at Sony – was clam­our­ing for, Men in Black 3 is a rea­son­ably crowd-pleas­ing and pain­less ex­pe­ri­ence.

Sure, you might not feel so for­giv­ing if Will Smith’s mas­sive two-storey trailer was parked on your street in Man­hat­tan dur­ing the film’s in­ter­minable pro­duc­tion last year. But this only mildly bloated and con­vo­luted ac­tion com­edy has enough in­spired mo­ments to wipe out mem­o­ries of the abysmal 2002 first se­quel as surely as one of the black­suited he­roes’ Neu­r­a­lyzer.

Bor­row­ing heav­ily from Back to the Fu­ture, the new film fi­nesses the sec­ond one’s big­gest prob­lem – Tommy Lee Jones’ very weary-look­ing Agent K – by send­ing Smith’s Agent J back in time to 1969, where he meets a 29-year-old ver­sion of Agent K (Josh Brolin).

Brolin’s im­i­ta­tion is su­perb – even if in real life he’s 44 and in 1969 Lee Jones was 22, room­ing at Har­vard with Al Gore, and soon to make his film de­but as Ryan O’neal’s room­mate in Love Story.

The time-trip­ping is nec­es­sary be­cause Boris the An­i­mal (Je­maine Clement), an evil and scary-look­ing alien Agent K ap­pre­hended in 1969, has es­caped from a su­per­max prison on the moon. Boris has gone back to 1969 to kill K be­fore K de­stroys his arm, cap­tures him and in­stalls a shield to pro­tect Earth from an in­va­sion from Boris’ world.

For rea­sons that aren’t made clear, J is now the only per­son on Earth who doesn’t be­lieve K was killed in 1969 – ex­cept pos­si­bly Agent O (Emma Thompson), the new head of the Men in Black ser­vice af­ter the off-screen demise of Rip Torn’s Agent Zed.

Af­ter a breath­tak­ing leap from the Chrysler Build­ing into 1969, J is stopped by cops for ‘‘driv­ing while black’’ and taken into cus­tody by the younger K.

The agents fi­nally team up for a raid on Andy Warhol’s Fac­tory (the film’s best se­quence) where they find an alien named Griff (mar­vel­lously played by Michael Stuhlbarg) who can see in­fi­nite, mul­ti­ple ver­sions of fu­ture events.

The film cli­maxes at Cape Canaveral (then known as Cape Kennedy), where J and K need to place the Earth-se­cu­rity de­vice on Apollo 11 be­fore it takes off for the first land­ing on the moon.

An at­tempt at pathos – even the dimmest au­di­ence mem­ber will guess the iden­tity of a black mil­i­tary of­fi­cer who turns up to try to ex­plain K’s grouchy fu­ture mien – doesn’t quite fly and it seems al­most per­verse not to utilise the con­sid­er­able comic chops of Clement ( Flight of the Con­chords).

Di­rec­tor Barry Son­nen­feld keeps things mov­ing and Rick Baker con­trib­utes some won­der­fully squirmy-look­ing ex­trater­res­tri­als, es­pe­cially for a hi­lar­i­ous raid on a Chi­nese res­tau­rant.

Men in Black 3 at one point re­veals that Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are ex­trater­res­tri­als – a throw­away joke that even the film­mak­ers seem to re­alise has whiskers af­ter 15 years.

opens to­day.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the not-so-bad sec­ond se­quel

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