I had a great time watching IRON MAN 3. What I love about the movie is that after the Whedony alien-esque craziness of AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, we get a much more intimate, personal film, in which a handful of key relationships underpin the story. I mean, the evil villain has a personal motivation.
All of this is down to writer-director Shane Black, the guy who wrote the Lethal Weapon movies and trademarked his brand of authentic buddy movie action comedy. He hasn't directed anything since his cult comedy-noir KISS KISS BANG BANG., which not unco-incidentally also starred Robert Downey Junior aka Tony Stark aka Iron Man. Taking over from the franchise's original director, Jon Favreau, Black makes the story smaller, funnier, less action dependent (although there are still some exceptionally good set pieces) and more anchored in the performances. The result is a movie that has some of the psychological depth of Christopher Nolan's Batman with none of its turgid self-congratulation.
So, down to business. The movie picks up where AVENGERS ASSEMBLE left off. Tony Stark has saved New York from aliens, but he's suffering from PTSD and a girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow) seriously unimpressed by his withdrawal into tinkering with his Iron Man suits. Meanwhile, the US is apparently being threatened by a nasty Bin Laden like terrorist (Ben Kingsley) although the fact that the suicide bombers can regenerate Terminator style, hints at the involvement of an Evil Scientist (Guy Pearce).
So far, so predictable. Where the movie gets interesting is when it undermines the importance of the suit. Still a prototype, it repeatedly malfunctions at key moments, leaving Stark to fall back on his core skills: making cool simple stuff. It's in this middle section that the movie's at its best: as Stark goes all McGyver aided by a smart kid with whose he has real chemistry.
In fact, the movie can be seen as something of a buddy film in three parts. First, Stark has good banter with his Knight Rider style posh English computer cum valet, Jarvis (Paul Bettany). Then he meets his emotional and verbal match in the cute kid. And finally we some brilliant wisecracking with Don Cheadle's Iron Patriot.
I guess the overriding theme of the flick is that suits are cool but that having a few good mates is better. That, and that science starts out pure but ends up weaponised. The latter has been heavily done already in this franchise. The former is a refreshing change. And despite the epilogue, I certainly hope we see more.
IRON MAN 3 is on release in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Taiwan, Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Peru, Portugal, Macedonia, Singapore, South Korea, Brazil, Bulgaria, Estonia, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Romania, Spain and Vietnam. It opens next week in Germany, South Africa, Thailand, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the USA. It opens on May 9th in Poland.
IRON MAN 3 is rated PG 13 in the USA and the running time is 130 minutes.