This film is an improvement over the second installment. It does exactly what you would expect it to do and does so well, delivering aliens, shiny weaponry, and Smith-ian gibes. Emma Thompson was an unexpected addition [at least she was for me] who was offered very little to do other than give a cringe-worthy eulogy. Its effect produced in me a prolonged feeling of empathic embarrassment, leaving me looking into my popcorn bag until the scene passed. She’s better than that. It hurt me to even listen. Smith does his part mustering small measures of enthusiasm, but Jones is looking a bit more hound-doggy than usual, so the jump to the past brings a freshness to a franchise that feels a bit dated.
Besides gaining closure on the series, the only real reason to see this film is Josh Brolin doing an impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones’ K. It’s uncanny. Rather than a distraction or gimmick, it’s also funny. Brolin’s performance rounds out K’s characterization over the course of the franchise, giving the somber agent charm and heart.
My main grumble concerns the whole Cape Canaveral mystery. I lodged a similar complaint about The Raven. If we are going to be given some grand revelation, it should be more than an after thought. It should have been woven in to the entire series, and not simply the conclusion. Otherwise, it changes the tenor of the first two films and has K’s actions motivated by guilt. Moreover, it suggests that there is nothing terribly special about J except that he needs looking after.
Fifteen years ago, July 4th weekend, MIB owned the box office and continued Will Smith’s reign over the holiday, one that began with Independence Day. It was nice to see an OG, the franchise not Smith, hit number one again, if only for a weekend.