I didn’t get its vibe for a half hour but eventually saw more emphasis on self-mocking comedy than action. It’s easy to have a misplaced vibe with Iron Man 3 since it is somehow a departure from the previous two. Do I think some might be disappointed that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) doesn’t gear up with his suit very often? Yeah, probably the younger kids that want to see more of the Iron Man suit and an abundance of flying action. This third installment seems to ask what Tony can accomplish with half his suit on. He’s merely Tony with a little extra protective gear.
As an actor, Robert Downey Jr. hasn’t lost his footing with this character. He is the same cocky smart aleck here that he was five years ago when he launched the character. This sequel offers two new peerless performances by Guy Pearce (as Aldrich Killian) and Ben Kingsley (as The Mandarin) – dangerous, menacing, wacky, bigheaded antagonists. After two movies, however, you would think Gwenyth Paltrow (as Pepper Potts) and Don Cheadle (as War Machine) would become more complex by this point. They come and go, but it’s Tony’s show.
After the hero’s headquarters are wiped out, Iron Man retreats into Middle America and makes some friends among the commoners, most memorably a super-geek fan and a kid who is an inventor himself. Downey’s throwaway lines are priceless – part of his lines are his and part of them are jibs from writer-director Shane Black’s cheeky script. The humor gets increasingly offbeat when we meet a sloshed “villain” and a defenseless henchman who begs for mercy: “Hey, I don’t even want to work for them. They are so weird.”
Unconventionally, yes, Tony works without his suit most of the way, more often operating the suit on remote control. We demand more theatrics, but hold on – we get ’em. A spectacular scene features the “The Barrel of Monkeys Skydiving Team” as referred to at the end credits, and of course, a rescue-the-U.S.-President spectacular finale with a few explosions that compare to Fourth of July fireworks. Confession: I wasn’t entirely sure what the villain’s plan was, I was too hypnotized by his general weirdness. In broad strokes, this is another Hollywood topicality take on global terrorism.
This entry isn’t Tony Stark’s biggest adversity ever. Even captured, he doesn’t seem all that panicked. Downey is playing a cool-cat hero who gets the job done with no-sweat elán. He even imitates Gene Kelly more than once (For you kids, Kelly’s the guy from the musical classic “Singin’ in the Rain”). “Iron Man 3” is breezy and with less chaos, which will make a few action-hungry audiences impatient. But I think the droll comedy is a welcome change-of-pace for the series and in the near enough future will play well on home video. Downey had reason to be extra comfortable in this second sequel – he starred for Shane Black before in 2005’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” an irreverent and quirky satire on the detective genre.
For discriminate and highly demanding movie buffs, truth be told you’ve seen this movie before – a third movie of any franchise has unavoidable “redux” bearings. But if you’re in a light and easy-going mood, you might be able to appreciate that Black and Downey have given us a refreshing new groove.
Jon Favreau, who dropped out of the director’s chair from the previous two efforts, appears again as Tony’s bodyguard and associate. Also with Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, William Sadler, and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner (stay past the end credits).
130 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
ACTION & ADVENTURE / TEENS & ADULTS / BLOCKBUSTER FAMLY NIGHT
Film Cousins: “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (2005); “Iron Man” (2008); “Iron Man 2” (2010); “The Avengers” (2012).