Iron Man 3 (PG-13) | Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwynneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley | Directed by: Shane Black
Let’s get one thing out in the open now: This didn’t feel like a comic book movie. This felt like a reboot of theLethal Weapon series with Marvel characters. In a sense, that’s a good thing, because it helps to make the series a bit more accessible to those who may have been sleeping under a rock since 2008. There are playful nods to previous installments, but that’s it. The events of last year’s megablockbuster – and perennial ProFan fave – The Avengers play an important part of this movie, but it’s more of an impetus to add a struggle point to Tony Stark than anything.
The movie kicks off in Bern, Switzerland on New Year’s Eve in 1999. A completely inebriated Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) is busily putting the moves on a scientist named Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) while she’s trying to tell him about an experimental regeneration experiment called Extremis. While being ushered out of a party by the gloriously mulleted Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and running into a soon-to-be important figure in his life, he meets a disabled scientist named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). Killian offers him a place in his company Advanced Idea Mechanics, but Stark gets him out of the way by way of a false promise.
In present day, Stark is having trouble sleeping. He’s constantly working on new suits of armor, as well as a way to get the armor to come to him instead of having to go to a specialized location for it. Making these suits and running multiple tests are causing strain on his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwynneth Paltrow). Pepper has issues of her own to deal with; Killian returns, and he has grown from the disabled scientist he once was to a suave and ruthless CEO, trying to put the moves on both Stark Industries and Potts herself. There are also other issues afoot: a terrorist who calls himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is bombing locations left and right in an attempt to bring America to its knees.
To aid in security, the president has enlsited the aid of Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and his suit of armor – now dubbed “Iron Patriot” and sporting a star-spangled color scheme. After an attack on the TCL Chinese Theatre that injures Happy, Stark goes on a rampage and dares The Mandarin to attack him…which he does in the most glorious manner possible. Stark winds up escaping to Tennessee, and there opens a new can of worms for him as he has to build himself up from his precipitous fall.
First of all, I just want to say that Shane Black has an unhealthy obsession with Christmastime. Just about all of his movies have taken place during Christmas, and this one is no exception. In fact, it’s rather jarring to see snow on the ground in Tennessee in the middle of summer. Then again, with the way the weather has been across the country lately, maybe not. Atmosphere aside, his directing is spectacular, and his command of the cast is crisp. The cast themselves are on point, but I have to single out both Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley. I can’t really go deeply into details with both of them, but they’re absolutely great. I also loved Gwyneth Paltrow in this, but her performance is another I can’t comment too deeply on without giving away spoilers. I will say this: She earns her stripes in this one. The Brian Tyler score – while driving in the right spots – was ultimately forgettable, save for the end credits.
Like I said in the beginning, this didn’t feel like a comic book movie. In fact, it felt more like a thriller with comic book characters sprinkled in. With a few exceptions so minor that I won’t even bother to mention them here, this was a fun movie to watch, and I highly recommend it for everyone. I also highly recommend you stay after the end credits; although that shouldn’t need to be said at this point, it’s an entertaining coda to what’s been a fairly entertaining trilogy.
My rating: A