IRON MAN 3 (2013)
WARNING: SOME SPOILERS
As a fan of the first two Iron Man films and all the Marvel phase 1 films so far, this second sequel to Iron Man was highly anticipated…and therefor that much more disappointing. Iron Man 3 picks up after The Avengers with Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) suffering anxiety attacks and trying to escape his sleepless nights by constantly evolving his suits. Enter a terrorist known only as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and the sudden re-emergence of two scientists (Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall) Tony met in 1999 and soon Tony’s troubles become far more difficult than sleepless nights.
Despite an interesting start, this is when the film’s plot gets completely convoluted as Tony provokes this vile terrorist and gets his home blown to smithereens and Tony becomes stranded in Tennessee, with nothing but a garage full of tools to try to get back in action again. Now add in some glowing and literally explosive super soldiers, product of some genetic hanky-panky by said scientists and Iron Man 3 becomes something resembling a Pierce Brosnan era James Bond flick and not one of the better ones. Seeing Tony out of the suit for most of the film is fine, but the film jumps from one scene to another with a very choppy narrative flow and some of the stuff just gets plain ludicrous and silly, with glowing assassin soldiers, mustache tweaking villains and Tony somehow buying lots of goodies to make gadgets out of, yet somehow keeping up the facade that he is dead. Does he carry that much cash in the event his home is blasted to pieces and he can’t use his credit cards? Tony becomes an anxiety filled Bond trying to take down this silly conspiracy involving war vets turned human bombs and rescue a kidnapped Pepper. Don’t get me started on the ridiculous plot twist involving The Mandarin. They took Tony’s arch enemy from the comics and simply ruin him for what basically appears to be laughs…although Kingsley was good in Mandarin’s various incarnations, but that is a testament of his acting, more than the script or direction. And while on the subject, writer/director Shane Black does give us some spectacular action and he also gives Robert Downey Jr. some really great dialog to chew on and some very funny scenes, but it’s just the story is all over the place and his attempts to turn this into some sci-fi/conspiracy thriller just didn’t work. The villains never really make their motivations clear, nor do we really get a decent idea of what exactly it is they are up to. What is the point of all this? Since we never really get a clear picture, we never really get involved. Instead we watch Tony go from one scene to another trying to get the bad guys without any real emotional investment, other then our amusement at seeing Downey take down bad guys without his suit…which he rarely ever puts on. And then there’s the spectacular yet unsatisfying climactic confrontation. Unsatisfying because we never really get to know Aldrich Killain (Pearce) well enough to truly make him effective as a villain and have no real emotional investment to want to see him taken down. At the climax, Tony is practically a bystander as his automated suits do all the work. And, that takes the soul out of the suit and then it just becomes random CGI robots battling random glowing super soldiers, who have even less personality than the suits. After all we have seen and all the characters have gone through, Black wraps it all up in a far too neat little bow. Everything fixed, all better now.
At least the cast are all good in their roles with Downey having a blast as an even more eccentric Tony, thought Cheadle and Paltrow really don’t have much to do till the last act and Rebecca Hall’s character could have been easily written out without much harm to the story. All in all, Shane Black does deliver some big action and gives Downey a lot of situations to do what he does best, but for an Iron Man film, it’s just too messy a plot and Iron Man himself has very little to do and in the end it doesn’t really feel much like an Iron Man movie. Not a complete loss, but when compared to all that’s come before it, it’s a borderline mess and a big disappointment. Stay after the credits for the most pointless Marvel flick post credits scene yet.
Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) Iron Men, mostly for RDJ and some nice action.