Movie Feature

Before they were the 'Men in Black'

By Cinema OnlineMovies - 21 May 2012 12:00 PM

Before they were the 'Men in Black'

Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are back in black in 'MIB3'

Alien invasions and saving the world… Two popular movie themes rehashed to death by almost every scriptwriter out there.

Put the two together and you’ve got yourself a winning formula, add two big-named stars and you’ve got a franchise.

Back in 1997, ‘Men In Black’ saw Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) take  on a bad-tempered alien with an appetite for human flesh. The duo then suited up again to save the world in ‘Men In Black II’ (2002), from seductive Victoria’s Secret model/alien named Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle).

A decade on, the ragtag duo is back with ‘Men In Black III’ out in cinemas on 24 May.  Veteran MIB field agent J (Will Smith) learns that Agent K's (Tommy Lee Jones) life and the fate of Earth are at stake, to stop this disaster happening, he must time-travel to 1969 to stop an alien criminal named Boris from assassinating K and changing the planet’s history.

There, he teams up with a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin) to stop the alien criminal, while facing a 24-hour time limit, or he will be trapped in the past forever.

Before we gear up for the next alien invasion, here’s a look at the roles some of the MIB III trio have suited up for in the past. 


Will Smith

‘Bad Boys’ (1995) as Detective Mike Lowrey

Before he was detective Mike Lowrey and Agent J, Will Smith played a fictionalized version of himself in ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’.

The wildly popular series showed Smith’s comedic chops and his talent for doing more than just rapping.

Before the series ended in 1996, Smith started his transition to the big screen debuting in the action-comedy ‘Bad Boys’ in 1995. Paired with comedian Martin Lawrence, Smith played a drug-busting detective and playboy of Miami-Dade county, a foil to Lawrence’s hen-pecked family man character.

The chemistry between the two and the pithy one-liners ensured the film became a hit and spawned ‘Bad Boys II’ in 2003. 

‘Ali’ (2001) as Muhammad Ali

Playing the role of the boxer Muhammad Ali was a game-changer for Smith.

Under the direction of the notoriously obsessive Michael Mann, Smith took Hollywood’s comedic impression of Ali and turned it into a performance worthy of an Academy Award nomination.

Set during a controversial period of Ali’s life (1964 to 1974), when the brash, motor-mouthed athlete first made his name in the sport, married his first wife (played by Smith’s off-screen wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith), converted to Islam, changed his name from Cassius Clay, and defied the United States government by refusing to submit to military conscription duty in Vietnam.

In addition to the emotionally demands of the role, Smith bulked up to become Ali, a transformation that didn’t go unnoticed by anyone, especially his wife. 


Tommy Lee Jones

‘The Fugitive’ (1993) as US Marshal Sam Gerard

Similar to Smith, Tommy Lee Jones was first known for his TV roles during the early 70s till the late 80s.

Playing everyone from a cowboy, Red Indian, astronaut, marshal, coach, terrorist, FBI agent, Texas Ranger, sports figure and many more, Jones has certainly established his versatility as an actor.

One defining role is US Marshal Sam Gerard in ‘The Fugitive’.

Dogging wronged fugitive – Dr. Richard Kimble (played by Harrison Ford) – every foot of the way is US Marshal Sam Gerard, who announces his intention to search "every whorehouse, doghouse, and outhouse" to bring Kimble to justice.

Jones plays the role with a sardonic sense of humour and the role not only launched his career as a film actor, but also earned him his first Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actor.

 ‘No Country For Old Men’ (2007) as Ed Tom Bell

Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in ‘No Country For Old Men’ is arguably one of Jones’ best performances.

Joel and Ethan Coen’s Oscar-winning crime thriller follows a Vietnam veteran (Josh Brolin) who discovers two million dollars while wandering through the aftermath of a Texas drug deal gone horribly awry.

His decision to abscond with the cash sets off a violent chain of events.

Caught up in this affair are Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a hit man who has been hired to recover the money and Sheriff Bell, a disillusioned man of the law who struggles to contain the rapidly escalating violence in his once-peaceful Lone Star State town.

With stars like Josh Brolin, who plays the younger version of Jones in ‘Men In Black 3’, Woody Harrelson and Javier Bardem, ‘No Country For Old Men’ is one of the Coen brothers finest. 


Josh Brolin

‘The Goonies’ (1985) as Brandon “Brand” Walsh

There will hardly be a 80’s-era kid who isn’t familiar with ‘The Goonies’, a group of adolescent misfits from the "Goon Docks" neighbourhood of Astoria, Oregon.

But ask them who played Brand, the headband wearing jock and older brother to the central character, Mikey (Sean Astin), and most will draw a blank.

Played by a surly Josh Brolin as one of the pre-teen group members determined to search for the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy and save their homes from being sold to developers. Their adventures see them encountering the badass Fratelli family and outsmarting the many deadly traps set by One-Eyed Willie.

As Brolin’s film debut, ‘The Goonies’ was certainly not a shabby way to start. 

‘Milk’ (2008) as Dan White

Known for its controversial subject matter, ‘Milk’ certainly does not disappoint as one of Brolin’s best.

In the film, Brolin plays the role of Dan White, the city supervisor who gunned down gay rights activist and politician, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), California's first openly gay elected official.

The film suggests White might have been a closeted gay man, which gives even more credit to Brolin for daring to take on non-stereotypical roles, and earned him his first ever Academy Award nomination. 


 'Men in Black 3' open in theatres on 24 June