Synopsis: Agent J (Will Smith) travels back in time to stop an alien from killing his partner and friend Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). The young Agent K is played by Josh Brolin.
Here's what the critics have to say.
Daniel Pinto, DNA
Though more out-rightly cartoonish, it’s the same odd couple, same incredible odds and same oodles of space oddities. However, two things work for the film such as the exploration of J’s crusty and taciturn partner’s hitherto unexplored past. The other is the ever-vibrant 60’s setting which successfully induces a few laughs with the bizarre revelation that Andy Warhol was a Man in Black and J’s encounters with cops who clearly aren’t keeping abreast with the civil rights movements of the time.
Smith, whose character must travel back in time, is infectious with his charming motormouth schtick which contrasts Lee Jones’ stoic deadpan act. Brolin as K’s younger version is pretty dead-on in his mannerisms. The presence of Rip Torn as the agency’s boss Agent Z, as well as Frank the Pug, is sorely missed in the film. Flight of the Conchords Clement, as the villain, for all his snarling and his dire need of a dental plan, he’s no Edgar- the disgusting bug creature essayed in all his gross-out glory by Vincent D'Onofrio.
Sadly, the film doesn’t possess the same doses of humour that catches you off guard with aliens emerging out of the unlikeliest places (or people). However, the comic timing of the cast is near-immaculate and the inherently complex, well-worn theme of time travel, however, is breezily and unpretentiously presented.
While Men in Black 3 isn’t a threequel of the likes of The Army of Darkness or Toy Story 3, it does surpass its predecessor. The decent performances, just-about-right pacing, and good but not mind-blowingly spectacular or imaginative special effects make the film decent enough fare to wile away an evening.
Official poster of Men In Black 3
Raja Sen, Rediff
There's something oddly comforting about watching three great actors so earnestly embrace this schlocky cinema from a simpler, cheesier time. Smith, propelled by his own and undeniable charisma, literally leaps headlong into the one-joke premise this film is built upon, that of his cool Agent J still confounded by the inscrutability of his laconic partner, despite us all being more than used to it by now.
Tommy Lee Jones is consistently fine as Agent K, but Sonnenfeld's masterstroke lies in casting the chameleonic Josh Brolin [ Images ] as the younger Agent K. This 1969 version of K, a Mad Men In Black version, so to speak, has Brolin channelling his No Country For Old Men alumnus so eerily well the effect outdoes anything the 3D can throw at us. Only very rarely can a casting call be this perfect.
The film cheats again at the very end with a conveniently rounded familial reveal that, if you think about it, fundamentally robs even the first MIB of its cool-cop cold-cop vibe.
Then again perhaps it is in the thinking that lies the rub. Perhaps, like the actors who started shooting the film before the second and third acts of the script were even written, we aren't supposed to think about it at all. And simply enjoy the laugh when the black Agent K lands up in the 60s, the first thing he does is steal a car -- but, as he honestly says, it's not because he's black. The stereotype-tickling coincidence, however, is priceless.
Allen O’ Brien, Times of India
Well, the MIB gave us good comedy, great special effects, inspiring performances, and ample action. Welcome to Circa 2012 and nothing much seems to have changed.
Once the time travel begins (in the movie), it is simply a trip down memory lane...And just incase you thought the Smith-Jones pairing is what kept the MIB series alive, here is more. No doubt, the two have put up a great show in all MIB movies, but taking the partnership forward this time is the Will Smith (Agent J) - Josh Brolin (Agent K, the younger one) bonding. In fact, it's hard to believe that Agent K of the 1960s is not really Agent K of 2012. So convincing is Brolin as the young Tommy Lee Jones. As for Will Smith, he fits the bill (the MIB suit in every sense of the word) as always.
Now, for the special effects. The monster show where Smith fights it out with a huge fish that attacks diners is surely worth every penny. The moment when Smith jumps off the Empire State Building to travel back to the past is worth every cutting-edge moment. Add to that some cool gadgets -- the state-of-the-art MIB workplace and the wheel Hoover-bike, for instance -- and you are left high and dry.
Sadly, it's the 3D that does not really spruce up the drama, but once you know you are in for some real MIB-isms (a hi-tech, buddy sci-fi comedy that features everything weird, creepy, funny and wonderful in and around the universe), you don't really care.
Steve Rose, The Guardian
You'd think a black man from the future visiting the golden age of conspiracy theories, flower power and civil rights strife would offer a wealth of comic opportunities, but the movie is too set on racing through its mission to really have fun with its retro setting. The period recreation is lavish but feels synthetic – populated with stock 1960s caricatures who barely interact with the main characters. One welcome exception is an alien innocent, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, who can see alternate versions of reality simultaneously. His perceptions on fate and miracles are a joy, and help rescue the plot every time it ties itself in knots trying to be too clever.
It's by no means a triumph, but one of the enjoyable things about Men in Black has always been the malleable nature of its reality. At any stage, someone could rip off their face and reveal themselves to be giant caterpillar, a living room wall could flip up to expose a top-secret weapons arsenal, or Emma Thompson could burst into alien screeches, as she does here (though that's just about all she does). It's like a cross between Looney Tunes and The Naked Lunch – a hallucinogenic popcorn movie you can safely forget the moment it's over. So bring on Men in Black 13!
Peter Paras, E!Online
The script by Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) has fun riffing the '60s, the space race and the realization that Andy Warhol is not an alien.
The casting of Flight of the Conchords' Clement as Boris is a wasted opportunity. He's short one arm (young K shot the other) and spews icky insect-y poison darts from the remaining one. Which is fine, but was there really no time to let Clement make the character his own? Perhaps with a show-stopping musical number?
Without a strong villain, this installment never quite solidifies.
Still, the strongest element is the casting. Besides Brolin—it can't be stressed enough that he is really terrific—there's the reliable Emma Thompson as the new MiB boss. Also excellent is Michael Stuhlbarg (Hugo) as an alien named Griff who exists in multiple dimensions at the same time. Like a superfan of a television show, he's always wondering if each moment with J & K is the one where everyone gets killed...or eats pie. His scenes with J and K are the film's highlights.
Bo Welch's fantastic production and Danny Elfman's score have done well under director Barry Sonnenfeld. While MiB 3 does underwhelm compared to the original 1997 flick, this is a much better effort than Men In Black 2.
Fifteen years since the zippy original and a decade since the sub-par sequel, we now have a third "Men in Black" movie which no one seems to have been clamoring for except maybe Barry Sonnenfeld, the director of all three. Long-gestating and written by a bunch more people than actually get credited, the latest film shows the glossy style and vague, sporadic glimmers of the kind of energy that made this franchise such an enormous international hit. But more often it feels hacky, choppy and — worst of all — just not that funny. And of course, it's in 3-D for no discernible artistic or narrative reason.
Smith and Jones don't seem to be enjoying themselves, either, in returning to their roles as bickering secret government agents. When even the most charismatic actor on the planet can't fake excitement, you know you're in trouble. (We're talking about Smith, in case you were wondering.) The puppy-doggish enthusiasm is gone, and now his Agent J is just weirdly obsessed, after all these years, with determining why it is that K is so surly. K, meanwhile, remains surly and reveals nothing.
The best part of our trip to the '60s — the best part of the movie, period — is the arrival of the Young Agent K. Josh Brolin channels Jones in eerily dead-on fashion, from the bemused Texas twang to reticent demeanor to the slightest facial tics. It's also an amusing bit of casting given that a) the two actors co-starred in the Coen brothers' masterpiece "No Country for Old Men" and b) Brolin is supposed to be playing a 29-year-old version of Jones, even though he's in his mid-40s, and looks it.
As good as Brolin is, though, the novelty wears off quickly, and we're once again left with the realization that there's no substance to the script (credited, for the record, to Etan Cohen). And all the familiar and rather flat comic elements lead up to a revelatory climax that comes out of nowhere and in no way earns the sort of heartrending emotion it aims to evoke from its audience.
Leigh Paatsch, Herald Sun
Yes, here by total lack of public demand, is Men In Black 3. This messy, overbearingly loud and barely diverting action comedy happens right in front of you. Then high-tails it out of your memory for good.
If the plot for the new MIB often gives you the feeling it was made up on the spot, it is indeed because that is exactly what happened.
Performances are ever so slightly stilted. Brolin does an uncanny impression of a youthful Tommy Lee Jones, but leaves no impression otherwise. Jones can barely feign interest in his sections of the movie. Clement earns a pass mark as the villain but doesn't get to do anything funny. Given his reputation as a comedian - and a gifted one - the Conchord is denied all chance of lift-off. Even Will Smith is nowhere near the top of his game. Which is perhaps understandable. It has been four years since he last starred in a movie.
Any positives? Just the visuals. Not so much the effects, mind you, but the composition going on within the frame.
To the naked eye, Men In Black 3 is a beautifully arranged picture. Every person, prop and pixel has been placed to perfection before the camera. Switch off the sound and cut out all the bits where people yap or monsters go splat, and you've got the most striking screen-saver ever made.