Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle
You may like this if you liked: Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau, 2010), Avengers Assemble (Joss Whedon, 2012), The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, 2012)
Set not too long after the end of Avengers Assemble, Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) is still haunted by his near death experience in New York. He cannot sleep, has constant panic attacks and is getting increasingly paranoid. However, his lack of sleep has given him the chance to build a new suit that piece by piece attaches itself to him using some sensors in his arm. Of course this being a super hero movie we need a bad guy. Well step up Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian an embittered and extremely slick tycoon fronting A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics). His firm has been able to design a programme that can tap into the human brain called Extremis. This is basically a sophisticated method of DNA reprogramming that can repair and regenerate limbs as well as giving super human strength. It emerges that this is connected to a series of terror attacks that all have something to do with super terrorist The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), a hooded and very secretive figure that vows destruction on America. After Stark’s chauffeur Happy Hogan (still Jon Favraeu) is left in a coma following an attack Stark vow’s revenge even giving The Mandarin his home address. Anyone who has seen the trailer knows what happens next. With no home and just one heavily damaged suit, Stark must get to the bottom of who Killian and The Mandarin really are and, well as he is a Superhero stop the bad guys, save the country and get his girl. Of course let us not forget Don Cheadle whose suit has had a very American paint job and is called the Iron Patriot.
For me Iron Man 3 was all about unrealised potential, which was frustrating and disappointing. This was a solid, watchable and entertaining action film but could have been so much better. I also have to point out that there were some extremely bad plot decisions that really left a bad feeling, but I unfortunately cannot go into those. However anyone who has seen the film will know what I mean.
Tony Stark is in my opinion one of Marvel’s best characters to appear on film so far, not Iron Man but Tony Stark and the very human flaws and emotions that he has. Downey Jr. has truly made the role his own and he is once again on top form for his fourth outing, but that basically goes without saying. He is once again at the start of Iron Man 3 a conflicted and troubled character and from herein lays the problem of unrealised potential. I found the story skirts over his problems too much and only mention these when it is a convenient plot point, almost complacently knowing we will route for him no matter what. It is this complacency and laziness for me that dominates Iron Man 3 and is perhaps the main reason why it is a good film but not a great film. It was obvious how much passion and effort had gone into the first Iron Man to make it work, but here the whole film just feels quite lazy and all those involved (with the exception of the actors) know they don’t have to put their all in it to make it a hit.
The film does start off a little slow but sets up the plot with all the components (probably a pun in there) of what could potentially be a great action film to rival Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Once again the apparent laziness and complacency just means Iron Man 3 peters out with more of a whimper than a bang. There are naturally some quite ludicrous concepts in there, but that is of course forgivable but maybe if they had worked harder at developing the characters involved. The action is good and there are some great set pieces that provide solid entertainment. As usual the best part of Iron Man 3 is the comedy and with Lethal Weapon creator Shane Black in charge the bromance between Stark and Rhodes delivers some great lines. The best lines come from the scenes between Stark and Harley (Ty Simpkins) a child that becomes an unlikely ally, and these scenes show Downey Jr. and Black on top form. Unfortunately even the comedy at time misfires with lines from bad guys that work in a cheesy 80s action film, but not here. At 130 minutes, at least twenty minutes could have been shaved off as there were some scenes that just felt like unnecessary filler. Even the bad guys present some potentially interesting concepts but even these fill a little underdeveloped and a tad lame, again failing to take advantage of great and menacing performances from Pearce and Kingsley.
Iron Man 3 is a perfectly enjoyable and entertaining blockbuster, but laziness and complacency has produced a disappointingly hollow and forgettable experience of what could have been a spectacular chapter in the trilogy.