I went into the latest, and what I imagine to be the last installment of the Men In Black franchise with rather low expectations. In fact, the only reason I even decided to see the film was because of the nostalgic memories I have of the previous two films, movies that I watched multiple times as a kid. With my incredibly low faith in the films possibilities, I was amazed at how much I enjoyed this film. My amazement was quickly explained in the credits upon discovering that Ethan Cohen was involved with the screenplay and that it was littered with just enough cameos to make the flow of the film entertaining. However, the greatest part of the film was easily the new philosophical focuses tied into the narrative. The series had always concerned itself with commentary on the frivolity of human suffering on a universal scale, as you may recall with the ending of the original film, one that suggested that the Earth was merely a fragment within a galaxy that served as a marble to a game for much larger, godlike creatures. Yet, Men In Black 3 is preoccupied with a Eastern Philosophy and Buddhist rhetoric that influences the entire narrative flow, something that can certainly be credited to Cohen helping with the screenplay. Of course, the jokes about the alien nature of contemporary society never hurt either, nor does it hurt that the film's story is set mostly in the late 1960's, allowing for jokes to be made about many of the absurdities of the hippy generation and passing suggestions that Andy Warhol himself was an undercover agent for the Men In Black. Essentially, Men In Black is not a perfect film and is certainly what you would expect from a summer release, but it also has moments of glimmer and shine that make it a bit more than a simple sci-fi action film.
Men In Black 3 begins with a scene on Lunar Max, a high-security prison on the moon, one that is known for housing alien criminals. We are shown a call-girl of sorts delivering a cake to a prisoner named Boris The Animal (Jemaine Clement). While the guards are initially reluctant to allow the delivery, they agree mockingly and let the woman into Boris's cell. The choice is instantly punished, as the cake is holding an alien creature necessary to the destructive nature of Boris. After escaping from the prison, Boris claims that he is out to get Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) for shooting his arm off over forty years ago. We are then cut to familiar scenes of Agent K, along with Agent J (Will Smith) zapping memory erasing lasers at citizens of New York to cause them to forget about seeing alien ships. Despite their success as agents, J cannot help but find himself concerned with K's distant nature, constantly inquiring as to why he is so surly. K continues his stoic nature and their lack of communication comes full frontal, as K becomes victim to an attack by Boris who intends to travel back in time to kill the aging special agent. Even after this confrontation, K refuses to come clean to J and the two separate for the night on bad terms. K attempts to reconcile with J only to be scoffed at and the night ends with K disappearing out of nowhere and J suddenly feeling inexplicably nauseous. J wakes up and attends work to confront J, only to realize that J is a figment of the past to everyone involved, particularly Agent O (Emma Thompson) a person that K clearly shared a past. After continual confrontation, O finally admits that K died in the past and in all likelihood J is the victim of a break in the time continuum, something that is clearly the fault of Boris The Animal. Once provided with the information to an antiquated time travel device, banned decades ago by the intergalactic federation, J travels back to 1969 in order to prevent the murder of K. During this time, K meets a flurry of past figures, including a Younger K (Josh Brolin) and Younger O (Alice Eve) who are initially dismissive of his claims, but discover his issues to have validity. What ensues is a continual confrontation with time and space continuum issues that are helped by a alien guide named Griffin (Michael Stuhlburg) who is capable of seeing five dimensions of possible realities simultaneously. In order to not ruin the film I will simply leave it here as to suggest anything else would completely ruin the integral piece of plot to the entire film, needless to say it involves confronting a handful of classic images of 1969, including the first ship to land on the moon, a portion of the narrative that plays an integral role.
I mentioned in the introduction that the film was clearly influenced by Eastern philosophies, particularly those of Buddhism. The time travel element within the film has the characters, particularly J, commenting on their actions as they relate to the grander schema of existence. J is attempting to save the life of K, who at this point has no close relationship with him, thus making it near impossible for J to explain why he is helping him. This notion is rather Eastern in its origins, although it does reflect the Golden Rule to some extent. He helps Younger K, despite his misgivings, simply because it is the right thing to do. Griffin is then to be seen as a sort of enlightened individual, his ability to see one and all outcomes at once allows for him to provide nearly prophetic, yet vague advice. He constantly reminds J and Young K that their actions will result in an outcome, although it is nearly impossible to say for certain what the outcome will be because each minor occurrence plays into an infinitesimal amount of possible outcomes, even something as minor as how a baseball was made can affect the outcome of an entire baseball teams season. Furthermore, the design and concept of the Arc Net, a device that is intended to protect the earth from violent alien attacks reflects something like the universal circular motion of protection. It is quite Buddhist in its existence as well; a thought that everything in the world is part of a rounded continually connected set of movements. Finally and most surprisingly, K even represents a Eastern philosophy in his clearly Confucian existence. The tenants of Confucianism adhere to accepting ones role in a set of social constructions and never questioning them, as well as adhering to the positive and negatives of life with a straight face, never complaining in the process. K is absolutely Confucian in that he never complains about his job to anybody, even when it means the possibility of losing his life, or the love of his life as well.
Key Scene: The scene involving J's watch at the end is absolutely perfect.
Men In Black 3 is obviously a movie to be seen in theaters, it is just now making a run through the cheap cinemas and is well worth paying for, although I am quite certain little will be lost watching it on Bluray.