Black is back

A big step up from the weak sec­ond in­stal­ment, the goofy does the job, writes Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreview­s -

HAVE YOU lately ex­pe­ri­enced a crav­ing for choco­late milk? If you’re lucky, it’s just a symp­tom of lac­tose in­tol­er­ance. If you’re less for­tu­nate, there’s a se­ri­ous glitch in the space-time con­tin­uum.

Such vi­tal com­mu­niqués can only mean one thing: ei­ther you’re read­ing the Weekly World News or else the Men in Black are back in ac­tion at a mul­ti­plex near you.

When last we caught up with agents K (Tommy Jones) and J (Will Smith), they were slum­ming it in a lack­lus­tre se­quel op­po­site – eek – Lara Flynn Boyle. Zounds: the per­ils of the un­nec­es­sary, un­der­de­vel­oped cash-in.

If the gang’s dis­ap­point­ing sec­ond out­ing was a fran­chise ex­ten­sion brought to you by the spam pur­vey­ors who prom­ise all man­ner of mirac­u­lous en­large­ments and elon­ga­tions, then MIB3 is Vi­a­gra, pop­pers and a shot of Vi­ta­min B12. It’s not au na­turel and it’s hardly in the first flush of youth. But, dammit, it gets in,gets out and gets the job done.

The lat­est in­stal­ment, a time- travel ad­ven­ture penned by Amer­i­can Dad and Idioc­racy scribe Etan Co­hen, clev­erly al­lows the fran­chise a re­set to zero with­out oblit­er­at­ing all that’s gone be­fore.

Trust us: you don’t need to know the de­tails. You just need to know that Agent J must travel back to 1969 to team up with a younger Agent K (Josh Brolin) and a tele­ki­netic uni­corn (Bill Hader) so they might col­lec­tively stand against a ma­raud­ing alien men­ace (played by Flight of the Con­chords’ Je­maine Clement).

The re­sults are sappy and sweet, but they also mark a Great Leap For­ward from MIB2. It’s also di­rec­tor Son­nen­feld’s best picture ( Wild Wild West? RV?) since 1997.

To be fair, the pop­u­lar dark- suited char­ac­ters have, by now, earned the right to a poignant back-story and a bit of emo­tional depth. Emma Thompson, al­ways a trooper, pro­vides an un­likely TLJ con­sort and enough comic grav­i­tas to pass as Rip Torn Jr.

Clement, star of the crim­i­nally un­der­rated Gen­tle­men Bron­cos, is a whole mush of fun as the bad guy. Josh Brolin is per­fectly dead­pan as the younger Jones.

It works as a three­quel and, more im­pres­sively, as a SFX 3D picture. Take your glasses off and it goes fuzzy and ev­ery­thing. The fake 1960s: what an age we live in.

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