The 90s undoubtedly were a pioneering era for action-comedy films in Hollywood. Some of the greatest films of the combined genres were released in that era, as well as some of the earliest examples of styles that the two genres have lately exhibited. It’s not to say that the 90s pioneered the combination of these two genres itself, but that unlike the action-comedy films of today, the great action films of the 90s packed a major jump in terms of storytelling and likability. One such example was Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black.
To add more authenticity to its premise, it also involves elements of science-fiction to a fair degree. It was awesome enough to not only elevate the action-comedy scene of the 90s but also the career of Will Smith. And even though action-comedy, even at its best, doesn’t comprise the most original films, Men in Black is definitely among the most likable examples of it all around.
How to Stream or Download Men in Black (1997)
To stream or to download the first Men in Black film, click on the Download button located below this review. If you like Will Smith, check him out also in Independence Day (1996), The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), I Am Legend (2007), Hancock (2008), Men in Black III (2012), Suicide Squad (2016), Aladdin (2019), Spies in Disguise (2019), and Bad Boys for Life (2020).
The Movie Review
In the year 1961, a government agency makes contact with aliens for the first time ever. Alien refugees disguise themselves as humans and start living among them on Earth. Then we are introduced to the Men in Black (MIB), which is a secret agency that is always on the lookout for these aliens and safeguards Earth from more extraterrestrial threats.
And since the existence of aliens among humans is not common knowledge, the MIB seeks to prevent it from spreading by the use of memory-erasing neuralyzers. Even the current agents have no personal lives, and those who retire have their memories neuralyzed. Sounds pretty serious and suspenseful in premise, but as much as one would want to see an actual spy thriller with such a premise, it works so great as a comedy action tale, especially with how greatly Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones fit their respective roles.
Agent K loses his old partner Agent D, who chooses to retire due to being too old, and is of course neuralyzed upon retiring. K then encounters policeman James Darrell Edwards III who chases a superfast alien and impresses K with his abilities and interview responses. K then offers him a place in the MIB, which he accepts, then goes on to have his memories of his past life erased, and then finally becomes Agent J.
For a first major job, the duo is assigned a case of the bug-like Edgar alien, who takes over the body of a farmer named Edgar and kills his own kind for the sake of finding a device called “The Galaxy”. With how aggressively the Edgar alien pursues his goal, things get more and more chaotic for the MIB, and war with the aliens starts lurking around, all in good fun though. It is all followed by some of the most entertaining action sequences that have certainly aged quite well.
Ed Solomon’s writing for Men in Black is one of the funniest ever when it comes to action. The best part, as stated above, is making something that sounds like a serious science-fiction thriller if summarized so hilariously entertaining. It may not be the subtlest in all instances, but it definitely hits the right notes for the most part.
Barry Sonnenfeld’s direction really leaves an imprint on the style of the film, his way of telling the story complements the script greatly. Danny Elfman’s score is also among one of the aspects that work in favor and is very well-timed with both action and comedy. Don Peterman’s cinematography also provides the film and the franchise itself with some iconic imagery. Overall, Men in Black does check all the boxes quite well.
The Bottom Line
Men in Black is far from being a masterpiece, but it’s one of the most enjoyable films, and also happens to carry one of the most intriguing storylines, which you won’t expect to be comedic usually. On top of being a great action-comedy, it has all the technical prowess and storytelling pros to help it become a genre classic.