Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Iron Man 3

12, 2013, Directed by Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley

Robert Downey Jr is Iron Man. Having developed the self-professed billionaire philanthropic ‘mechanic’ over three films before it (Jon Favreau’s original two and Joss Whedon’s assemblage of those Avengers,) this third outing is as intricately layered as those new iron suits Tony Stark has been creating during his sleepless nights following the climactic events of Avengers Assemble. Be sure of this: Iron Man 3 - what many have been touting as the commencement of Marvel's second phase - should immediately be re-touted inexplicably as the single best Marvel flick yet. Step forward, Shane Black.
A writer/director who’s something of a pioneer of action movie scriptwriting (Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight,) it was the scriptwriter’s 2005 directorial debut Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang that led Downey Jr not only back into the clutches of Hollywood, but towards Stark himself. Quick-witted, punchy as hell and often hilarious, the words of Black spoken by RDJ are music to the ears. You can only imagine how funny Iron Man 3 can be.
Top rated dialogue. Check. An on-form Downey Jr. Always. Genuinely thrilling action? You betcha. Whereas Iron Man 2 dabbled with bloated action motivated by underdeveloped motives, this third venture immediately embarks upon establishing actions in an unnerving yet convenient manner: voiceover (this is a Shane Black film after all - and yep, you guessed it; it’s set at Christmas.) As the film opens, we join Stark and cast-addition Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen at a 1999 New Year’s Eve party in Switzerland; they are enthusiastically approached by Guy Pearce’s grimy Aldrich Killian, a scientist who expresses interest in working with them both. After Stark's snub, we're teased with the notion that this moment has since come back to haunt him. Cue present day, where a mystery-cloaked terrorist, known only as The Mandarin, continually intercepts the airwaves to spread forewarning of the horror he is about to induce upon America. This leads the way for Black to throw in more breathlessly-paced and edited mammoth sequences than is usually permitted, and ones that will leave you gasping for air.
Stark, battling with post-Avengers anxiety attacks and – for the most part – no Iron Man suit to aid him is stripped-back and as human as can be, pushing his relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts to the limit. A stretch of the narrative sees him partnered with Ty Simpkin’s young kid and under the supervision of most, these moments would have undoubtedly swayed into snore-inducing schmaltz; these scenes light up the film. Structurally, Iron Man 3 nails it - if perhaps in need of a slight trim. Character-wise, Guy Pearce is effective (as ever) as the slime-ball scientist, whilst Ben Kingsley will prove to be the film’s talking point. Although more established here than before, Don Cheadle’s Captain James Rhodes/Iron Patriot is star of the film’s baggier scenes, and the less said about James Badge Dale’s eye-rolling villain‘s accomplice the better; motives may be explored, but they don’t completely convince.
Although Iron Man 3 may not sway the more cynical viewer, it will shoot the fan’s expectations to sunshine in being something nobody anticipated. Fit with zingers galore (one of which includes, against all the odds, Croydon) and one incredibly brave make-or-break twist, audiences should simply sit back and admire a film that is better than it had any right to be. Impressively, Stark’s fellow Avengers are pushed to the back of the memory. The ball's in your court, Thor.