Review by Luke Whitmire

This time Iron Man belongs to the prolific action screenwriter from the 80’s, Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Predator, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Last Boy ScoutKiss Kiss Bang Bang), and his Iron Man is full of irreverent humor and wit that has turned him into one of the best screenwriters in the industry. There are moments in this threequel that don’t feel like Iron Man at all. They feel a lot like Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. Black uses his ability of developing strong, compelling characters and dialogue in the action genre and has transported that ability  into the superhero genre, giving us a fascinating cinematic experience.
It’s about time Hollywood recruited a promethean pioneer of script writing to conceptualize and direct a franchise film like Iron Man. Shane Black has reinvigorated Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and the world he inhabits with absolute helter skelter infusion that skyrockets to a world of whimsical dialogue and wise cracking one-liners. This is the funniest Marvel movie yet, and is a hundred times more dynamic than the mundane Iron Man 2.
Iron Man 3 is about a fractured man trying to piece himself back together again. Tony Stark has put away his cockiness after being shaken to the core when fighting the alien invasion with The Avengers. We see a more reluctant hero in this film, and I love how the events in The Avengers follow Stark into this film, leaving a dark, ominous shadow over him. Stark is now plagued with anxiety attacks and he struggles to rehab himself. I absolutely loved this aspect of the film because it adds a human element to the character that resonates.
As far as supporting cast, you can’t do much better than Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Don Cheadle and Ben Kingsley. Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) has a more prominent role this time, and she’s more of a damsel-in-distress that is given more screen time to be proactive. Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian) is a remarkable contribution to the film; he plays a sleazy, intelligent scientist who is compelling to watch whenever he shares the screen with Downey. Don Cheadle (James Rhodes, aka Iron Patriot) establishes a wonderful unity with Stark that is reminiscent of Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. And Ben Kingsley plays the elusive terrorist mastermind, Mandarin. Kingsley is utterly terrifying and far more layered than one would expect. He pretty much steals the whole movie from everyone else, even though some fans may not be thrilled with the direction Black takes this character, but there is no doubt that he is awesome. Without giving too much away, Kingsley’s Mandarin is a Bin Ladin-type villain that really magnifies the unorthodox enemy we fight today. Other great moments in the film are shared by Stark and a sagacious kid, Harley (Ty Simpkins), who mock their evolving father-son relationship while acting it out. Robert Downey is impeccable as Tony Stark. He truly caries this film with his clever quips and ingenious wit.


And this film is not lacking at all in the action department. Like I mentioned above, Shane Black has made a line of work out of writing classic action films and his ability to conceptualize, choreograph and translate to screen what he writes is brilliantly devised and really shows in this film. The anatomy of this action spectacle is well composed and executed. There are three amazing action scenes in this film that are briskly paced. These scenes have such a surfeit of visual dazzle and gut-wrenching stunts, that it might stop your heart.

Iron Man 3 delivers on nearly all counts. My only complaint is that plot motivations get a little discombobulated in the second act. The machinations of Killian don’t really make any sense, but that didn’t kill the character or his depth. What makes this Iron Man great is the dialogue and the brilliant characterizations, not the plot. I rather have strong characters and dialogue than a perfect plot. A great story and strong characterization is what this movie inherits. I’m just elated to say that the misfires in this film don’t overshadow the moments of excitement and perfection. Compared to other high-caliber superhero films, the Iron Man trilogy is not as compelling and meaningful aesthetic object as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, but Iron Man is my second favorite franchise in the genre. 
Finally, Brian Tyler composes a beautiful score for this film. Iron Man has a theme that’s galvanizing and trumps the themes from the previous two films. Fans will get to hear a theme that’s worthy of the metal-clad hero.
Bottom line:
With only a few minor flaws in plot, Shane Black injects just the right blend of wit, banter, bullets, explosions and characterization to keep this franchise flying high.
* * * * 
4 out of 5 stars

  1. Jan Rossini says:

    There is no one better to write an educated review of Iron Man 3 than Luke Whitmire.