After the events that took place in The Avengers, billionaire playboy and mechanical genius Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has finally settled down as a slightly changed man with the love of his life Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Unfortunately for Tony, he is far from adjusting to the simple life, instead, staying up days at a time to work on his “hobbies” that include perfecting a militia of suits with the help of his voice-operated right hand man, Jarvis. While domestic life has promises of bliss, Tony is also beginning to suffer from panic attacks and nightmares that revolve around the battle that happened in New York. On top of that, there’s a new threat to America, The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), a homicidal terrorist with goals of dismantling America by killing the President and attacking cities with a new bomb technology not seen before. Tony quickly learns that the past is the worst kind of ghost that can haunt someone.
Will the real Iron Man please stand up? I repeat, will the real Iron Man please stand up.
Iron Man 3 is easily the best film of the franchise, for more reasons than one. Directed by Shane Black, who is also one half of the screenplay writing team, Iron Man 3 embodies a powerhouse trifecta that makes a great blockbuster film: action, emotion, and humor. Black’s directorial debut was the feverishly fast-paced, hilarious Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a sleuth story with more twists and turns than the Stelvio Pass of Italy and a keen wit to match. Black is also responsible for one of the greatest buddy cop films in existence, Lethal Weapon. The same impudent wit featured in the aforementioned film is strongly present in Iron Man 3’s script from the first opening line to the last scene.
Much of that rambling wit is owed to Robert Downey Jr., who was born to play Tony Stark— or better yet Downey was born to play himself, which I assume just so happens to be in the same likeness of Tony Stark. An arrogant asshole with a sly comeback for every situation, Tony Stark wins as the cinematically coolest superhero in the Marvel universe despite his crippling insensitivity and ego. When Tony’s happenstance 8-year-old apprentice, Harland, reveals to him that his father left him when he was a toddler, Tony replies, “Dad’s leave, there’s no need to be a pussy about it.” You just can’t hate a guy with that much heart… it’s just not possible.
“Are you there God? It’s me, Tony… I’m so effing cold right now.”
Though Downey is the film’s incumbent highlight, he’s surrounded by a wonderful cast whose performances are equally impressive. Don Cheadle returns as Colonel Larry Rhodes, Iron Man’s lovable semi-sidekick, while Guy Pierce shines as Aldrich Killian, an evil former run-in of Tony. Even Gwyneth Paltrow does a great job of giving her sweet and dainty Pepper a bad-ass edge. But hats should go off to Sir Ben Kingsley for his wonderfully menacing, yet hilarious portrayal of The Mandarin.
Co-written with Drew Pearce, Iron Man 3 is funny, but has a sinister dark edge to it that sent shivers down my spine as I genuinely feared for the safety of the characters at the hands of the film’s brutal villains. Iron Man 3 roots itself in a reality that hits close to home as the villains are terrorists whose weapons of choice are semi “self-bombers” whose explosions can obliterate anyone and thing within a few mile radius. At times, scenes are constructed in ways that call to mind images of war, like flashes of newscasters rapidly discussing the terrorists’ activities and The Mandarin’s creepy video footage where he addresses the public intercut with scenes of him shooting AK-47’s similar to footage of Osama Bin Laden. Also in one scene when missiles fire on Tony’s home, I couldn’t help but think of the real life footage of Apache helicopters firing on Iraqi citizens, making the threat of The Mandarin all the more real and uncomfortable.
Iron Man 3 is a fantastic ride with thrills and chills, and some deep belly laughs. It’s a perfect end to an entertaining franchise that leaves a cathartic feeling at the end. The world of technology explored within the film is mind-blowing, yet easy to comprehend, making for some interesting correlations between the interworkings of the brain with the outerworkings of the universe. My only complaints would be that at times the editing is a bit sluggish, which does a disservice to the choreographed combat scenes, and also the film tends to meander on at times. However, these are just minor hiccups that don’t take away from the overall fascinating and entertaining momentum of the film. The only way Iron Man 3 can be ruined is if they make a 4th one. Which is completely unnecessary, so you stop those damn rumors right now Hollywood! NOW!
Take a Drink: every time a character dies but regenerates back to life.
Take a Drink: every time someone mentions what happened in New York.
Take a Drink: every time Tony has a panic attack.
Do a Shot: for every scene that references “Downton Abbey.”
Take a Drink: every time Happy reminds someone about their badge.