Deleting Fingerprints & Other Fantasies

Our Review

Will Smith is one of those actors that I really want to like. He seems like a nice enough guy, and he seems to be fortunate enough to make a lot of fun movies. However, he rarely makes a movie that I actually like. Some are terrible, most are mediocre and very few are good. Men In Black is one of the few that I think are good. Perhaps having a suit-up scene is what does it for me.

The suit-up scene in Men In Black is, competent. For the most part it's straight forward, showcasing many items that are commonplace in the art of suiting up. Shoes, sunglasses, neck tie and a nicely pressed suit are all to be expected simply by looking at the movie poster. However, there is one thing about the suit-up scene that sets it apart.

You'll often see us discuss how a suit-up scene is a pivotal point in a film where a character undergoes a transformation. A well done suit-up scene is crucial in telling the audience that the character has become something new. So why am I pointing this out? Simple. Men In Black does something a little different...

As Will Smith's character James Edwards is suiting up into the last suit he'll ever wear, the viewer is treated to a few other important images. We see his fingerprints being erased and all proof of his existence deleted from various government files. His new identity J is then entered into the MIB database. The reason I point this out is because in this instance, the character not only makes a physical or philosophical transformation he also takes on a new identity (or lack thereof) forever. He cannot simply go back to being James Edwards at a later date, he is and always will be J.

It is a minor difference, but it is one that sticks out to me as something special. This is something that director, Barry Sonnenfeld, could have done differently. The 2 scenes could have been broken up, but he had the foresight to intersect these 2 separate concepts to create a more powerful scene and I'm thankful for it.