Men in Black (1997)


Men in Black is a 1997 science fiction comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D'Onofrio, Rip Torn and Tony Shalhoub. The film was based on the Men in Black comic book series by Lowell Cunningham, originally published by Marvel Comics. The film featured the creature effects and makeup of Rick Baker. The film was released on July 2, 1997, by Columbia Pictures and grossed over $587 million worldwide against a $90 million budget. It was followed by a 2002 sequel, Men in Black II, inspired an animated series titled Men in Black: The Series, and a second sequel, entitled Men in Black 3, which will be released on May 25, 2012.


Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is a member of the Men in Black (MiB), a secret agency without ties to any government, whose goal is to maintain Earth as a "neutral zone" for extraterrestrial aliens, whom they disguise as humans around New York City. The agency maintains its secrecy by using a neuralyzer to wipe the memories of those that encounter either them or the aliens, and also the memories of former agents when they retire. Operating from a large underground base at a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority ventilation station, they fund themselves by obtaining patents on alien technologies released for consumer consumption. K's former partner, D, has just retired, but K identifies New York City detective James Darrell Edwards III (Will Smith) as a potential replacement, due to his ability to follow a disguised alien. After putting Edwards through several tests, each of which having an underlying meaning of using one's common sense (i.e. using a table in the center of a room to write on, instead of just doing so at his chair, and inferring that a young girl with college textbooks could be more dangerous than frightening looking aliens), K offers him the chance to join the MIB, which Edwards accepts. Edwards' past identity is erased, and he becomes Agent J, assigned to K by the agency director, Zed (Rip Torn). K helps to orient J to the workings of the MIB; during this, they learn that numerous alien refugees are trying to find a way off of Earth. MIB is contacted by an Arquillian fleet near Earth's orbit; the fleet warns that a "Bug," a member of a giant cockroach-like alien species that are currently at war with various other alien races as they feed off the carrion of their wars, has crashed down to Earth and is seeking an object known as the Galaxy that would turn the tide in favor of the Bugs. To prevent this, they are willing to destroy the Earth unless the MIB can secure the Galaxy before their deadline within a day. K and J find the Bug has taken the human skin of a farmer, Edgar (Vincent D'Onofrio), as its disguise and killed two Arquillians it believed to have possession of the Galaxy. The two bodies, along with a pet cat that refuses to leave its owner, are taken to a city morgue, where Dr. Laurel Weaver (Linda Fiorentino) discovers one of the Arquillians, Rosenberg, is barely alive; struggling with English, it mutters that "The Galaxy is on Orion's belt" to her before it expires. K and J arrive to help remove the alien bodies and wipe Laurel's mind, but not before learning of this message. En route back to headquarters, they realize that Orion refers not to the constellation, but to Rosenberg's cat, and the belt referring to its collar. Racing back to the morgue, they find the bug there, having realized the same thing. It steals the Galaxy, which appears to be a small charm, and kidnaps Laurel, getting away on foot while the MIB secure its spacecraft to prevent it from leaving the planet. As the Arquillian deadline looms, the MIB attempt to determine how Edgar will leave the planet, until J recalls information in his initial briefing that reveals that the observation towers at Flushing Meadows are disguised spacecraft. J and K race there, finding Edgar attempting to climb into the structures. Their arrival distracts the Bug but it is able to enter the craft and start takeoff. K and J fire on the ship, forcing it to crash back to Earth. As the two face off against Edgar, it removes the disguise, revealing its true form, devours their guns and knocks them away, preparing to board the second ship. K tells J to not let the Bug go on the second ship and create a distraction for the Bug. K goads the Bug to devour him which it does by swallowing him into his stomach; J provokes the Bug closer to him by crushing some cockroaches from a nearby dumpster. Before the Bug can eat J and continue to head to the second ship though, J tells the bug to get out of his face before something bad happens and K found his gun in the Bug's stomach and blasts his way out, splitting the alien in half. K is revealed to be safe and J acquires the Galaxy from within the Bug's stomach, and the news is relayed to the Arquillian fleet, but when the top-half of the bug appears behind them, Laurel shoots the bug by using J's gun while it was dragged out of the Bug's stomach. As MIB cleans up the situation, and K apparently prepares to neuralyze Laurel, he admits that he was not training J as a partner but as his replacement, as he is ready to retire from the agency. J acknowledges this, and neuralyzes him. In the epilogue, Laurel is shown to have become J's new partner Agent L, while K (now Kevin Brown) has returned to civilian life. As the camera pans out, showing the Earth, solar system and eventually the galaxy, it is revealed that the galaxy is itself a marble. A pair of alien hands finish playing with it and place it inside a sack with other such galaxies.