Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence and offensive language
Tommy Lee Jones as Kevin Brown/Agent K
Will Smith as James Darrell Edwards III/Agent J
Linda Fiorentino as Dr. Laurel Weaver/Agent L
Vincent D’Onofrio as a giant alien insect
Rip Torn as Chief Zed
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
They are the best-kept secret in the universe. Working for a highly funded yet unofficial government agency, Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) and Jay (Will Smith) are the Men in Black, providers of immigration services and regulators of all things alien on Earth. While investigating a series of unregistered close encounters, the MIB agents uncover the deadly plot of an intergalactic terrorist who is on a mission to assassinate two ambassadors from opposing galaxies currently in residence in New York City.
With Men in Black International coming soon, I wanted to check out the original trilogy at the very least. I know for sure that I watched the trilogy at least once, but it was many years ago, and so I wanted to see how I felt about it nowadays. I’m surprised at how good it still is, it was pretty entertaining and you can definitely see why it was such a surprise hit when it came out.
You can even tell in some aspects of the writing that Men in Black is a little dated but nonetheless is still quite fun. It’s under an hour and 40 minutes which is really the perfect length for the movie. Not only that, but they keep the movie moving at a pretty good pace, never allowing for a dull moment. Some of the movie sounds insane and weird on paper but they managed to pull it off well. The plot itself isn’t anything special despite this, with it being about aliens trying to take over the world and a secret organisation trying to prevent this. However, you can consider that in the late 90s, this was such an strange yet original idea, and plenty of other films would proceed to take inspiration from and copy it.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones lead the movie and they do it well. As decent as the rest of the movie is, it wouldn’t have worked as well without the two of them, undeniably the highlight of the movie. Probably the biggest surprise was how good Tommy Lee Jones was here. It’s very rare to see him in a comedy but he plays the role very well and his deadpan delivery works perfectly. Will Smith is in his prime in this movie and as you can expect is just great, stealing the show. Both of them played off each other really well and their dynamic is really the driving force of the movie. As great as the cast of Men in Black International is, I can already tell that it’s going to be missing that very entertaining duo. Vincent D’Onofrio is the villain and it certainly isn’t a performance you’ve seen him give outside of this role. He does really well at playing an alien loosely wearing human skin and trying to pass off as a human (which he is). It’s a bizarre performance for sure, but it somehow works amongst the movie’s occasionally strange tone. Not much to say about the rest of the cast, they play their roles fine but don’t particularly stand out.
I’m not too familiar with director Barry Sonnenfeld’s work, I’ve seen Get Shorty and the other two Men in Black movies but that’s it. His work on this first Men in Black movie was good though. Some of the effects still work today, some of the other effects really haven’t held up well but even those work in a 90s blockbuster way. You can tell that even some of the worse effects were probably impressive in the late 90s. The practical effects and makeup was good and the alien designs were very creative and great overall.
Men in Black is by no means one of the best sci-fi films, not even when it comes to just those released in the 90s. However, I had a lot of fun with it, even the dated aspects have some enjoyment to them, and Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are great. If you haven’t checked it out, I do recommend giving it a go, it’s definitely worth a watch.