“Iron Man 3” promises more than it delivers. Which is a pity, because its flashes of fine writing and genuine wit are solidly buried under the burden of bludgeoning, frenetic and often meaningless blockbuster action sequences.
This is one mother of a loud movie that bangs and bangs and bangs away at your ear drums. I guess that’ll be the pattern for the next few months as Star Wars, World War Z, Man of Steel, Thor etc flash into our retinas.
At the center of IM3 is the deeply subversive (because it’s based on reality) idea that the key bogey-man (a marvelously funny Ben Kingsley), the Mandarin, is actually nothing more than a false construct, an actor standing in for the darker, truly evil force that goes right up to the heart of power. Kingsley’s shift from a Bin Laden type bogey man to a down in the mouth cockney actor is probably worth the price of the ticket.
The movie also offers us a nice, mini buddy movie interaction between Tony Stark at his smartass cynical best with a kid (Ty Simkins), with whom he teams up to rebuild his exoskeleton armor.
That’s the good news.
And then there’s the tedium. As if the authors (Director Shane Black and Drew Pearce who we’ll hear from later this season with “Pacific Rim”) weren’t all that sure that they could carry through the original conceit of the image of evil v the reality of it, they throw in a bit of IM1, in which Stark, the mechanic, has to create the armor in a garage; they throw at us an offhand reference to drones as the Stark we see is either the man in the suit or a drone that looks like the man in the suit; and there’s an entire sub plot about a vice presidential bid to unseat the presidency, not to mention the sub, sub plot about Gywneth Paltrow’s relationship with a former flame, Guy Pearce as arch evil Aldrich Killian. Her sub plot about a former lover is not to be outdone by Stark’s sub, sub sub plot with his former lover, Maya (an under-utilized Rebecca Hall)
And then, you know, things explode, people fly about in slow motion, buildings crash into the ocean etc.
It’s long as well. Director Shane Black (who gave us “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang…and has now given us “Bang Bang Kiss Kiss”) has crammed so many story lines and villains into the plot that it takes a good two hours and more to kill them all off. He seems to have killed off Stark as Iron Man as well. Maybe Robert Downey Jr. was simply exhausted with it all and wanted out.
There really out to be a board of governors whose permission is necessary in order to be able to carry a sequel beyond two episodes. Batman managed to pull it off nicely, but it’s time for Die Hard to quietly retreat into the sunset and for X Men, now called Wolverine to be absolutely decommissioned.