Release Date: May 25, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content)
Genre: Action, Sequel
Run Time: 106 min.
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Actors: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stulbargh, Bill Hader

Fifteen years ago, Men in Black hit the screens to rave reviews. A poorly received sequel, Men in Black 2, emerged in 2002. It’s taken 10 years—an eternity in today’s Hollywood—to come up with Men in Black 3. Is it worth the wait? Not really. Should those who fondly remember Men in Black settle for this lackluster chapter in the franchise? No. But in today’s summer-movie culture, where the bar is being ever lowered, Men in Black 3 may be enough for audiences who judge it against Men in Black 2 and other dreadful sequels.

Not nearly as funny or entertaining as the first film, or of some of stars Will Smith (Seven Pounds) and Tommy Lee Jones’ (Captain America: The First Avenger) other performances, Men in Black 3 might barely pass muster if you’re desperate to revisit their franchise characters, Agent J and Agent K. They’re still policing alien life here on earth, “neutralizing” anyone who witnesses something they shouldn’t have seen, and trying to deal with each other’s eccentricities.

This time they’re focused on Boris the Animal (the always amusing Jemaine Clement, Rio), who breaks out of the lunar prison to which he’s been relegated since Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) sent him there decades earlier. The clash between the two of them resulted in the loss of Boris’ arm, but Boris has a plan to get the arm back: He’ll go back in time and prevent the injury from occurring by killing Agent K. The film’s visit to the past includes an enjoyable performance by Josh Brolin (True Grit) as the young Agent K, but as good as Brolin is, the lack of Jones’ presence in the film is a net loss for the franchise. By the time Jones reappears, you could be forgiven for wondering just how much he was paid for so little screen time.

Agent J (Will Smith), who is on-screen throughout Men in Black 3, gets more fawning treatment from director Barry Sonnenfeld. That’s a good thing for lovers of Sonnenfeld’s wild camerawork, as when the director executes an overhead zoom that rushes toward Smith from above, then pivots and lands just in front of the star’s face. It’s a completely unnecessary shot that’s nevertheless a lot of fun. If only credited scripter Etan Cohen (who wrote the riotous, much funnier Tropic Thunder) and his team of contributing writers, including David Koepp, could have matched Sonnenfeld’s energy. I can’t remember a single gag from Men in Black 3, which ought to have delivered at least a few well-timed one-liners for the reliable Smith. Instead, the dialogue just ambles along, as Agent J and Agent K plot to go back in time and confront Boris once again.