"A virtuoso final sequence takes place at Cape Kennedy on the day of the first moon landing attempt."
Virtuoso? As in: "pertaining to, or characteristic of a virtuoso"? As in: "a person who excels in musical technique or execution"?
This term is used to describe composers like...Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Saint-Saens, Brahms, etc.
In modern times, we use it not to describe people so much as performances that dazzle. Like when a pitcher throws a perfect game: that's a virtuoso performance. The pitcher may not be a virtuous (see Phil Humber), but the performance was.
Now, we can still use the term to describe people. Justin Verlander, as a pitcher, is a virtuoso. Picasso was a virtuoso painter. If The Master is amazing, I will begin calling Paul Thomas Anderson a virtuoso director. Michael Jordan was a virtuoso basketball player. What Christina Aguilera can do with her voice is virtuoso.
So, sorry Ebert, but I disagree. A lot. And I'll tell you why.
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Was also the Executive Producer of Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Steven Spielberg
I will hopefully never see another movie written by him: Etan Cohen
Note all he does is complain about other people or treat people like they're in his way: Will Smith
Eeyore: Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee W. Bush: Josh Brolin
I haven't been so annoyed by a villain since Topher Grace as Venom: Jemaine Clement
Her hair scared me: Emma Thompson
I like her as an actress: Alice Eve
"Let's have someone be a pure gimmick": Michael Stuhlbarg
Thank you: Bill Hader
"WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE FINAL SEQUENCE?! It was action packed! There were multiple plots going on! The backdrop is a real-world event! It was cool! What's wrong with what Ebert said? Balancing everything that was going on, it sounds 'virtuoso' to me!"
There's one gigantic flaw in the final sequence that makes it, to me, annoying, stupid, and impossible.
THE FACT THAT BORIS THE ANIMAL SPENDS THE ENTIRE MOVIE MERCILESSLY KILLING PEOPLE WITH SUPER SNIPER ACCURATE HAND SPIKE ROCKETS!
This guy kills and kills and kills. Hitting people in the head and heart again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again.
Then, in the climactic fight against Will Smith, Boris just...doesn't...kill...
Shut up. He did not try. Boris grabs Will Smith and throws him off the tower. Why throw Will Smith? Why not...I don't know, SHOOT A SPIKE INTO HIM LIKE HE DID EVERYONE ELSE IN THE MOVIE?!
"HE DOES SHOOT SMITH!"
Yeah, three times in the chest, as Smith is running STRAIGHT AT BORIS!
And this is really why I have a problem with the final scene.
For the entire duration of the movie, Boris is made out to be a killer. It's pretty much the only thing he does. Literally, we can name the things he does that aren't "attempting to kill people/killing people" because they're so few: he kisses Nicole Scherzinger, he breaks his chains, he rides a motorcycle, he cackles at hippies, he talks to himself (well, his past self), he rides his motorcycle through an empty stadium and grabs Griffin.
That's it. Those things aside, all Boris does is kill people, a bunch of people.
And he doesn't mess around. It's straight-up murder. Spike to the head! Spike to the head! Spike to the head! He doesn't torture people. He doesn't get creative either--the one time he doesn't kill someone with a spike he kills a group of people with a giant space gun/hand cannon.
And Boris only doesn't hit his target twice: Tommy Lee Jones because Will Smith opens the door and the spikes go into the door; and Griffin because a girl walks in the path of the spike and gets spiked, then everyone is running and ducking. Every other time he's a spike firing master.
What I'm trying to say is this: Men in Black 3 establishes Boris as a guy who doesn't hesitate to kill and who is deadly accurate at shooting spikes out of his hand and into the head of his victim.
It doesn't make sense then for Boris to not kill Will Smith with a spike, for Boris to choose to throw Will Smith off the launch-tower-thing. It also doesn't make sense that when Will Smith is running along a narrow length of steel, STRAIGHT AT BORIS, that Boris can't hit him in the head or heart or something. Three shots to the chest? I don't buy it. And prior to the spikes to the chest, Boris FOR THE SECOND TIME HAS SMITH BY THE THROAT AND THROWS HIM! This second time Boris doesn't even throw Smith OFF THE TOWER but purposefully tosses him along the narrow length of steel so Smith lands safely. Then five seconds later he's shooting spikes to kill Smith? Fuck this movie.
The only reason for Boris not to simply spike-murder Will Smith, and for Boris's sudden inability to throw a strike/hit Smith in the head: if Will Smith dies it ruins the intended plot. So Will Smith has to stay alive. He has to be there to see the big "reveal" that the one guy who was nice for 30 seconds (because Griffin showed him the future) is actually Smith's father.
There are two ways Sonnenfeld and Cohen could have kept Will Smith alive during this final fight sequence: in a way that makes sense, and in a way that is lazy as fuck. They chose the "lazy as fuck" method.
And that's really the problem I have with the movie as a whole. There are so many little...lazy moments.
1. How's Boris get back to Earth? The spaceship? Why the fuck was there a spaceship? Why wasn't there an alarm system on the prison so that when the one wall blew open MIB knew? If they have such a high-tech prison, if their entire operation is so fucking advanced, why don't they know what's going on in the prison? Did all the prison guards die in that one blast? Isn't there a computer system that alerts HQ when part of the prison explodes?
2. Why did Will Smith go back to July 15th and not July 14th? Like. It's a pretty big fucking deal he stop Boris. So why's he cut it so close? Why not go back, get settled, and be prepared to kill Boris? "Because the character is reckless!" Sure, that's an acceptable answer. It's just...he's a senior level agent, you think that, by now, he would have matured some?
3. Let's see if I can make the next point make sense...
A. Boris goes back in time and kills Tommy Lee Jones and changes the future.
B. Will Smith goes back in time a day ahead of Boris.
C. Both of the people from the future end up meeting in the past. Which means that there's one timeline people are going back to. And it means that when you go back in time once, you always end up going back in time, right? What I mean by that: Boris goes back in time and kills Tommy Lee Jones/Brolin. It happens. We see the effect this action has on the future. Boris murdering Brolin Jones is why Will Smith goes back to the past. When Will Smith goes back to the past, Future Boris still shows up. Which means Future Boris has become part of the past. By the associative principle, this means Future Will Smith also becomes part of the past.
D. Why then when Will Smith tackles Boris from the launch-tower-thing and sends them back in time by like...10 seconds...why do they not see themselves? Shouldn't there be like...two Future Will Smiths? And Two Boriss?
4. Speaking of that moment, it's totally fucked. Unless I'm missing something. Smith tackles Boris. They go back in time like 45 seconds. Obviously Will Smith knows what happened: he grins, he dodges the spikes, and instead of tackling Boris he uppercuts him off the edge. This begs the questions:
A. if Smith remembers what happened "the first time through" and uses that knowledge to avoid the spikes, WHY DOESN'T BORIS REMEMBER?
B. if Boris doesn't remember until they get back to the moment where Smith tackled him, which would explain why he starts yelling "That's not possible!", WHY DOES SMITH REMEMBER EARLIER AND NOT BORIS? And don't say it's because Smith was the one that "went back in time". They clearly went back in time together.
C. I get how Smith could dodge the first spike, but dodging the first one would have changed Boris's behavior, right? He wouldn't have fired the spikes in the same three spots as he did the first time. The moment one thing changes, other things change, right?
D. If Smith had the speed and reflexes to dodge the spikes the second time WHY NOT THE FIRST TIME?
D. Why fake tackle Boris then uppercut him? Why not just shove him off? And why didn't Boris...defend himself?
E. Why didn't Boris USE HIS FUCKING CHOMPING FEET TO GRIP ON TO THE BEAM????
F. How is Will Smith strong enough to uppercut Boris off Boris's feet?
You may be saying, at this point, that I'm being too serious and just need to enjoy the movie. I enjoyed the parts of the movie that made sense. When things don't make sense, it's fucking annoying.
5. Did Will Smith not realize he could go back in time until the moment before he tackled Boris off the tower? Why, after Brolin believes Smith, doesn't Smith just...go back in time to the 15th again and do a better job of killing Boris at Coney Island? Why risk everything? For a guy that's a senior agent, "level 1", he sure doesn't...think (which is a way of saying Sonnenfeld/Spielberg/Cohen/Smith didn't do a good job).
6. The Astronauts see a guy LEAP ONTO THE NOSE OF THE SHIP. And they ignore it because "they [mission control] would scrub the launch." I laughed at the joke that follows ("I didn't see anything"). They really want to go into space. I get it. That's funny. But. This doesn't make sense to me. It's 1969, it's the middle of the Cold War. There's a Space Race with Russia. Wouldn't the astronauts have been like "Is someone planting a bomb?" There's seriously no consideration that this could be an attempt to kill them? I find that hard to believe. Again, there's a way to make this work. Like, a brief snippet where the astronauts radio in and Will Smith's Dad's like, "just a final good luck charm, nothing to worry about fellas." (Then that way we have more than ONE REASON to think Will Smith's Dad is cool).
7. "Where there's death there will always be death." So, this is what happened the first time? Past Boris kills Will Smith's Dad? And Brolin Jones arrested Boris? I don't buy it. All the film needs is one line of dialogue like "MIB agents are always supposed to arrest criminals, unless they're left with no other choice."
8. This is the reason Tommy Lee Jones is sad: because he knew Will Smith's dad and could never tell Smith? Is this true from the first film? And the second film? And this film? Why is it only a problem in this film? In the first film Jones was sad simply because he missed his wife. Why, in the first film, was Jones so skeptical of recruiting Smith if Brolin Jones is so willing to recruit Smith's Dad in this movie? This kind of plot completely fucks with the coherence of the first film.
9. "Where there's death there will always be death." Why is the inverse not true? If they can kill Boris (who didn't originally die), why can't they prevent the death of Smith's Dad?
10. If Smith knows he can go back in time multiple times, LIKE HE JUST DID, why doesn't he go back in time and try to save his dad? He's bullheaded in every other situation in the entire movie. But this is the one time he decides he'll just let things be? He met his dad, he liked his dad, he's not going to try to save his dad?
11. Griffin obviously didn't show Smith's Dad that Smith's Dad was going to die. Or maybe he did? Why else would Smith's Dad have brought Little Kid Smith to the empty beach? Why's the kid there? Why's he not far away? What possible purpose could Smith's Dad have had in bringing his son to that place?
12. If Brolin Jones neuralizes Little Kid Smith and tells him his dad's a hero, why did Smith grow up to not believe that and harbor angry feelings toward his dad? Or did this not happen originally?
13. Griffin told Smith that if Boris lost his arm that it's a reset and he could go home, that Brolin Jones wouldn't remember Smith being there. After Brolin Jones shoots off Boris's arm, Brolin Jones has not forgotten about Smith: "Where's your partner?" "He's fine, he went home." Then Brolin Jones says, before killing Boris, "Not this time." Obviously referring to Smith screaming "DON'T ARREST BORIS THE ANIMAL, KILL HIM."
14. The reunion in the diner made so little sense to me that I can't even begin to tell you why it didn't make sense. Please, try to explain what happened to me. Does Tommy Lee Jones remember Smith coming back from the future or does he not? It sort of seems like he does? But Griffin said he wouldn't? If Jones doesn't know and Smith just comes in and puts down the watch and is like "Yeah, I get it," wouldn't Jones be like "How did you know?!!?!?!? I neuralized the shit out of you!" And what happens when Smith comes back to the present? Wouldn't there be two Present Smiths? Or does he just return to the moment after he jumped? If he had set the timer for 10 days from when he jumped, would he have just been missing for 10 days?
15. "OH NO AN ASTEROID IS HEADING TOWARD THE EARTH! Oh! It collided with a satellite and disintegrated. WHEW! That was close!" Look. Any asteroid that disintegrates from hitting a satellite would burn up in the atmosphere anyway.
Change some scenes, add 10 minutes worth of explanations, and this movie makes sense. As it is, Men in Black 3 IS NOT WELL-EXECUTED. The final scene, along with the entire movie, is FULL OF PROBLEMS, which makes it the opposite of virtuoso.
I've been saying it a lot lately, and I'll say it again. Every narrative is a logic system. This is true of most things that are built: paintings, songs, poems, houses, cities, tables, chairs, TVs, cars, trains, websites, languages.
When something is made well, you don't have unanswered questions.
"Why does a car have wheels?" So you can drive it. "Why does it have windows?" So you can see what's around you. "Why can you roll the windows down?" So you can get air, or talk to people. "Why not have any windows at all?" Because it snows here so driving in the winter, or the rain, would be a bitch. "Oh, is that why most convertibles have collapsible roofs?" Yes. "Why is there a trunk?" For storage, but also in case of a rear-end collision people in the back seat are safe since there's space between them and the point of impact.
Once the basics are all in place, people can do crazy things to a car: increase the engine. Make it more fuel efficient. Make it safer. Make it look cooler.
What Men in Black 3 fails to do is construct a basic car. It's like a car with only one windshield wiper, except it's not one LARGE windshield wiper that covers the whole windshield, it's a regular wiper, on the driver's side only--the driver can still see where to go, but can't see great. But it's also a car with only one side mirror. One tail light. Half a roof. The seatbelt doesn't buckle.
That's not to say narratives shouldn't leave you with questions. A lot of really good movies leave people asking "what just happened?" or "what did that mean?" These movies work because there's enough information in the film to form logical answers. An entire hour of Inception is dedicated to explaining the basic logic system of the film. Same with The Matrix. You may watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and be like "one does that guy shoot the other guy at the end?" The answer isn't obvious. But there are clues scattered throughout the film that allow us to build an answer. This is the same for Fight Club, Another Earth, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Synecdoche, New York, Drive, Tree of Life.
The moment we notice a failure in the logic system, or a glitch, we start to doubt the system. Either the failure/glitch can be explained or it can't. If it can, great. If it can't...
Say we have a story that takes place in Cleveland, OH and Sydney, Australia. A girl from Cleveland is in love with a guy from Sydney. They met during a conference in London. They're both Cat Nip experts. The guy is going to get married on May 25th. She decides to crash the wedding and announce her love. She flies into Los Angeles the day of the 24th. Her flight out of LA is at 10pm the night of the 24th. She figures it's a 15 hour flight. She'll land about 1pm. The wedding is at 5pm. She can get there in time! And that's exactly what happens! She lands. There's some delay getting through customs, but she makes it. Her taxi gets stuck in traffic on the Harbour Bridge. So she gets out and runs along the bridge, down through the Rocks (a section of downtown Sydney), and finds some guys who are boating in the harbour and begs them to take her to Manly Beach where the wedding is taking place! They're off! And she gets there and announces her love and the guy picks her and they run away together. The end!
That seems to make sense. Except for the fact that Sydney is 14 hours ahead of America. The wedding would have happened during our heroine's plane ride. Some people will ignore this and still enjoy the movie. Some will go so far as to call the final sequence "virtuoso". Others will vomit out of disgust.
Did I Like It:
Yes and no. I mean, I said everything that I just said. And I mean everything I just said. But there are parts of the movie I enjoyed. I thought Brolin killed it.
And I was a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air kid, so Will Smith always makes me laugh. Except this is the first time I actively disliked Will Smith in the movie. There were moments I liked him. But his character is...such a gigantic cock sucker. He wants Tommy Lee Jones to be nice, but Smith is constantly complaining to Jones that Jones isn't happy. I wouldn't be happy either if someone keeps complaining about me to me. Smith's like a younger version of Jones. He gives everyone attitude. He's never apologetic. There are like...3 times in the film where he says something nice to someone. I don't think he's ever polite? He constantly has the attitude of "I'm important and what I want and need is more important that what you want and need." And this makes sense in situations with the electric store kid who has the time jump stuff. It's imperative Smith go back in time. But what about Will Arnet? He's a skeptical jerk to Arnett. "He's confused about what's going on!" Yeah, but he handles the situation like a jerk. What about the guy that he makes get him chocolate milk? The guy shows up after like...2 min and Smith doesn't thank him, Smith makes a snarky comment about how long it took. "But that was funny." Yeah, sort of. But imagine you're the guy who brought the chocolate milk...
Speaking of chocolate milk, craving it is the symptom of being in a temporal fracture? Har har har.
I hated Boris the Animal. Everything he said. Everything he did. It was like watching Hannibal Lecter being played by Macho Man Randy Savage being played by Topher Grace as Venom. That's not a knock on Jemaine. I love Flight of the Conchords. It's just...I think Boris is a stupid character. I think the things he says sound as though they're written by someone who isn't funny who is trying really hard to be funny. He'd be way better if the movie were just a straight B movie...but it's not.
If you combine the effort of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and Emma Thompson, I still don't think you equal or outmatch the effort of Alice Eve. This is two movies where she had small roles and outperformed leading actors. This and The Raven.
Wanna know what people who aren't creative do with sequels? The same thing as the first movie. Notice what's gone on in ALL THREE films. Stuff from K's past impacts the present. The final battle takes place at the platform of some ship that's taking off. K has some hopeless romantic plot going on. The entire world is on the brink of destruction.
I actually just re-watched the last 10 minutes of the second movie. And it's way stupider and way funnier to me. Like...actual trying to be B-movie.
Overall, I think MIB 3 is a shitty, shitty movie. That doesn't mean it isn't without highlights. I just wouldn't tell someone to go spend money to see it. Though friends of mine have watched it and really liked it as something that's purely entertaining.
It's shameful this movie has a 73% TOP CRITIC score on Rotten Tomatoes.
I know there are other movies where the bad guy doesn't kill the good guy and it's inexplicable, and you're like "if the bad guy had just killed him when he had the chance..." but I can't think of any of these movies at the moment?
What It's Good For:
-a lesson in how not to write a screenplay
-watching Tommy Lee Jones not give a fuck
-it has dinosaurs but for no other reason than 3D gimmick (I'm holding up my middle finger right now)
-Josh Brolin showing off how awesome he is
-Alice Eve trying to get a leading role in a good drama
-the plot holes could cause such confusion you vomit on yourself
-you listen to Will Smith complain for 105 minutes
-weakest use of dinosaurs ever
-made me contemplate watching Ashton Kutcher's The Butterfly Effect
-could induce nightmares of angry Tommy Lee Jones
-everything that comes out of Boris's mouth
% Character / % Actor's personality
-Virtuoso multi-action sequences: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
-Alice getting to be a lead: She's Out of My League
-Smith's last three films: Seven Pounds; Hancock; I Am Legend
-Sonnenfeld also directed: Wild Wild West
-Things Steven Spielberg has executive produced: Transformers Dark of the Moon; Cowboys & Aliens; Transformers Revenge of the Fallen; The Legend of Zorro; Men in Black II; Jurassic Park III;
-Other things Steve Spielberg has executive produced: Gremlins; The Goonies; Back to the Future; Who Framed Roger Rabbit; The Land Before Time; An American Tail Fievel Goes West; Tiny Toon Adventures; Animaniacs
-And: Smash (????)