Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Rip Torn
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Running Time: 88 mins
Men In Black II is an American film and the sequel to Men In Black. After an alien lands on Earth with links to K’s past, J must bring him back to MIB to help save the day.
Always intent on being the cool kid of sci-fi blockbusters, Men In Black II certainly has a charismatic edge, but it struggles to back that up with genuinely entertaining humour or storytelling. An often overly simplistic movie, it’s an easy-going watch, but it lacks the occasional excitement of its predecessor, as well as the entertaining chemistry between its two leads.
That’s where I want to start, because the dynamic between leads Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith is very different here to what it was in the first film. Gone is the love-hate relationship between Tommy Lee Jones’ experienced agent K and Will Smith’s young upstart J, and instead there’s a rather awkward attempt to redress that balance.
Though it starts off in entertaining fashion when we see an amnesiac K working in a local post office – unaware of his past at Men In Black – this film quickly falls into a messy attempt to subvert the pair’s previous relationship while keeping the characters exactly the same.
Now, Men In Black II certainly deserves credit for trying to change things up – rather than just doing the same thing again but ‘bigger’ – however Smith and Jones’ relationship just doesn’t work as well with the roles reversed. Both of their performances are fine, but their characters really don’t gel as the hilarious odd couple they were in the first film, which is a shame to see.
And that’s a common thread through this whole movie: trying to change things up but ultimately failing to deliver anything more than superficial entertainment. The comedy isn’t great (and not as out-there as the first film), and the story is really quite dull, with an non-threatening villain that the good guys are able to put up a fight against too easily.
There also isn’t the same wow factor as you discover all the different aliens and civilisations in the universe like the first film, and although this sequel tries to use some of the aliens from last time round in new roles, it really doesn’t add much to that sense of entertainment and awe.
Like I said, though, Men In Black II isn’t meant to be taken too seriously, and it still has an innate charisma that makes it enjoyable enough to pass the time. It’s not as good as the first film, and its attempts to change things up really don’t work, while it tells an often overly simplistic story with disappointing humour to boot. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.8 overall.