Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) is back on his own again after last years Avengers Assemble. This time he’s fighting a more down to earth threat than the Chitauri, though just as dangerous in the form of the Mandarin (Kingsley), a terrorist who has a love for the theatrics, taking over all US TV networks after attacking the country. When he is personally attacked by the Mandarin and thought dead by the world, it’s up to Tony to save us all.
We change gears with this series here. Director of the last two films, Jon Favreau is now relegated to the producer chair as writer/director Shane Black steps up to take control. Black is best known for his work on Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, very wordy and down to earth action comedies and that is exactly what this series needed. After shooting for the stars with Avengers Assemble, Iron Man 3 feels like a smaller story but an incredibly fun one, the choice to send Tony off on his own for the majority of the movie is a smart one, we’ve seen him with a team, now we see him completely isolated. It feels fresh and brings the character to new areas we haven’t seen him in his previous 3 appearances (4 if you count The Incredible Hulk and if you’re smart, you don’t).
Black (aided by co-writer Drew Pearce) brings his usual brilliance to the screenplay, it’s very funny, filled with intrigue and well paced for a 2 hour and change movie. There are moments incredibly reminiscent of Lethal Weapon where Tony and Rhodey (Don Cheadle) team up for the final battles. Sadly, Black isn’t able to break the trend of dull villains appearing in this franchise, whilst Mandarin and Aldrich Killian (Pearce) make formidable villains; their motives are quite unimaginative. Also, due to Tony being the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist that he is, we rarely feel like he’s in danger, he’s almost too brilliant.
Downey Jr. is Tony Stark now, he lives and breathes the role, there are no complaints to make about his performance. The rest of the returning cast are comfortable in their roles and do fine jobs though nobody really stands out. Kingsley is probably the most interesting newcomer here in a performance that will probably divide fans but will definitely garner some positive responses. Pearce is a little dull, sort of going through the motions and Rebecca Hall is an after thought. Surprisingly one of the best performances comes from Ty Simpkins, a child actor who has a great rapport with Downey Jr. and steals many scenes.
Iron Man 3 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it’s not the greatest action movie ever made (in fact the action is pretty sparse and nothing compares to the final battle from Avengers Assemble) and it is sure to split comic book fans but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It’s just enjoyable to watch Robert Downey Jr. in this role now, the people behind the scene know this and they give us what we want. It’s definitely up there with the first Iron Man as a fun action movie that doesn’t leave you confused or annoyed. Black and Pearce (Drew, not Guy) are welcome additions to the franchise and hopefully they will continue to leave their stamp all over the universe.