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'Men In Black 3' Plot: 6 Things I Still Don't Understand

Posted: 05/28/2012 6:44 pm

men in black 3

Now that you've seen Men in Black 3 (or perhaps you didn't -- it's not humanly possible for me to keep tabs on all of you), I have a few questions. Look, I like to pretend that I have at least the intelligence of an average human being (I graduated from a Big 12 school, so I realize even that may be a stretch), but there are quite a few things in the Men in Black 3 plot that confused me. I get it: perhaps Men in Black 3 isn't supposed to be one of those movies you think about too hard. And I did enjoy it more than I probably should have, considering how much it's making me fret. But, alas, as I sit here on my birthday, of all days, I just can't help it. Maybe we can all work though this together?

(Spoiler alert, obviously.)

1. When J is fighting Boris at Cape Canaveral, why did the time machine reverse time?

OK, so, Boris (Jemaine Clement) uses a time machine to travel back to 1969 in an effort to kill K (Tommy Lee Jones/Josh Brolin) -- the man responsible for (A) the imprisonment of Boris and (B) the loss of Boris' arm. This creates two Borises in 1969: The young version who is supposed to be in 1969 and the 2012 version who just traveled back. OK, fine.

Now, J (Will Smith) uses a similar device to also go back in time -- using the speed created from jumping off of the Chrysler Building as an accelerant -- arriving before either Boris has yet had the opportunity to kill K. As we learn at the end of the film, there are also two Js. So far, still fine.

In the climatic scene at Cape Canaveral, locked in battle, both J and Boris fall from the launch pad. J activates the time machine in an order to avoid death, reversing time just a few moments. Not only does J survive, he also now knows every single one of Boris' tactics because he has seen them before. This makes zero sense.

First, if the time machine works as we've seen it work up until that point in the movie, it would have created a second J, who would have witnessed J and Boris fall from the launching pad, not reversed time -- a la Superman in the original Superman film -- so that J essentially gets a "do over." And even if it had reversed time, wouldn't Boris, too, know what was coming?

2. How did the time machine activate after falling from a Saturn V launching pad?

J has very little room to spare, mere inches, for him to activate the time machine after a fall from the Chrysler Building. But, as it's explained, he wouldn't reach the speed needed to activate the machine until he was just a few inches from the ground. Again, fine.

But when J and Boris fall from the aforementioned launching pad of a Saturn V missile -- which launched Apollo 11 - there is enough height to activate the machine. A Saturn V missile is 363 feet tall. The Chrysler Building is 1,046 feet tall. To be fair, J didn't jump from the very top of the Chrysler building, but he didn't fall from the very top of the Saturn V missile, either.

3. Why didn't J lose his memory of K post-1969 like everyone else?

Most frustrating about this: J even asks, but is never given a real answer. Oh, sure, we're given a fancy sounding term -- temporal displacement, or something like that -- but no real reason why it happened to J. Yes, as J is about to jump off of the Chrysler Building, the fellow who supplied the time machine tells J, "That means you were there." What does that mean? Because it's never explained again. Is that fellow referring to the interaction between young K and a young J? Is he referring to the fact that J met his father? Why would this at all have anything to do with J's memory? Even more frustrating: a side effect -- J's new affinity for chocolate milk - is explained, but not the actual reason.

4. How is J still a member of Men in Black?

After Boris kills K in the past, I was fully expecting J to walk into MIB headquarters and have no one recognize him. In the first Men in Black, K is the one who recruits J. So it seems preposterous that J would become a member of MIB in a world where K can't recruit him because he's dead. (Even more preposterous: that I'm writing about any of this on my birthday.) And, as we learn, K has been keeping an eye on J since J was a child -- so J was always destined to be a member of MIB with K around. But, if K is dead, how did J still become a member? (I suppose one could argue, "J is just that good, so he would always become a member," but ... really? To the point that J even lives in the same apartment? C'mon.

5. How old is J?

Admittedly, this is a minor quibble: But, honestly, how old is J supposed to be in the Men in Black series? I cannot find an age for Cayen Martin, the actor who played young J. But let's assume he's five or six. Will Smith was born in 1968 and would have been less than a year old when Apollo 11 was launched. Smith today is 43, which sounds about right for J. But, since we clearly see that J is not less than a year old when he meets K in 1969, this means that J is pushing 50 in 2012. I mean, sure? I guess? It just doesn't seem to fit the character.

6. Why did K's demeanor "change" so drastically?

Throughout the film, we keep hearing about something that happened to K at Cape Canaveral -- something so terrible that he was never the same again. We also learn that K had a relationship with O (Emma Thompson/Alice Eve) before this "event" happened -- but was so affected by whatever this was that he became the crusty, ornery cuss we meet in the first Men in Black. OK, so what exactly changed him?

I assume it was watching J's father die and meeting young J. I guess? I mean, why would the death of a man that K met, literally, an hour or two earlier have such a profound effect on K's demeanor? Look, perhaps if that happened to you or me, sure. But doesn't K see stuff like this happen on an almost daily basis? Why would this event "change him forever"? I'd almost be willing to buy this one if at least some sort of explanation was given.

I'm not saying these plot holes, if you will, ruin the fun of "Men in Black 3." But they did kind of mess up my birthday, and I'm guessing I'm not the only one who still wants some answers.

Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

 
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