Movie Review: Iron Man Three
Director: Shane Black
Reviewed: 1 December 2013
jamesintexas rating-- *
Where is the anarchic charisma of Robert Downey Jr? In Ironman Three, the character of Tony Stark seems radically uninteresting as does Downey Jr.'s performance. Although a step up (I guess) from the dreck of Ironman Two, Ironman Three offers little in the way of character development, and the once promising take on the modern action film is played out.
After an opening scene set in Germany at the turn of the century sets up some crucial relationships, we arrive in the present where Tony Stark must confront the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), a shadowy terrorist behind a series of bombings while also coming to grips with his own insomnia. Stark's bluster and bravado plays against him resulting in a devastating attack on his Malibu compound. Rumored dead, Stark then plays detective and analyst, considering the evidence left behind after each bombing. He must reconcile with girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as well as thrive without the benefits of his lab, money, and hardware. But, it is Tony Stark, so we are never really worried about him.
A motif in this film is Tony's constant manipulation of other Iron Men, controlling them with his hand movements and summoning them when he is in trouble. In a way, the concept ruins the film, suggesting in fight scenes an on autopilot type of atmosphere, where it is unclear whether there is anyone we can are about in a flying suit or if it is just another empty drone. The fight scenes were very unappealing, and the film does not have the conviction to follow through on a teased out possibly darkly depressing ending. The reveal with the Mandarin mid-film is a fun one, but it goes nowhere, and the villains in all three films seem sadly interchangeable. I wanted to laugh more, and I did not find the writing or the delivery of the quips as much fun as in the past.
Sequels are often diminishing returns, but I was surprised at how little substance there was to this film. Will Robert Downey Jr. go back to doing interesting, spirited work? I certainly hope so. Iron Man 3 isn't it.