Iron Man 3 is a movie packed with action, loud sounds, and ugly villains. But Tony Stark is most tortured by the incessant panic attacks, his inability to deal with the trauma of the events that happened in The Avengers, insomnia, and his illogical desire to build more and more elaborate suits. Only the real danger to his faithful bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau) can shake him out of his slumber, and bring him, at least partly, to what he does best – fight evil.
Iron Man 3 opens with the flashbacks to the more arrogant (as if that’s possible), stupider Tony Stark booty-call hunting at a scientific conference, where a chance encounter with an inventor Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who Tony casually insults spells out a recipe for disaster much later. That night he sleeps with a genetic scientist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), who invents magic plants that can regenerate themselves but occasionally blow themselves up at high temperatures. But Tony forgets.
A regenerated, better looking, and suave Aldrich shows up at the office of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) to demonstrate a great invention that can help humans grow limbs and become virtually indestructible. When she turns down his offer, things go really bad. A bearded terrorist called Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) intercepts the signal on every TV channel in the USA to kill people in real time. When the terrorist is onscreen, it’s scary but not in a Bondian way; it’s scary in a news footage way while also being cartoonish and caricature (the twist later on in the film partly explains that effect). The plot goes up and down, around the world and back, landing Tony Stark in a snowy middle-of-nowhere where he meets a boy (Ty Simpkins) who doesn’t have a father, because apparently children with both parents do not occupy modern movies any more. Spoiling the movie experience for viewers is not my hobby, so I will stop here.
Some of the effects in Iron Man 3 are brilliant (but the 3-D is completely unnecessary) from the coming-back-to-life villains (bringing memories of Terminator) to the people falling out of a burning airplane, from the destruction of Stark’s stylish home and its mechanical inhabitants, to the army of Iron Men alter egos he summons to fight off his enemies. I like the little nod to Skyfall with all the primitive weaponry Stark makes to defend himself when the suit is out of reach. Gwyneth Paltrow is another winning point of this summer blockbuster, delicate in a crisp white suit, making it apparent that the secret to happy marriages isn’t just blowjobs, but also killer abs that have been making headlines around the world.
There are many things in Iron Man 3 that are difficult to like. For starters, the trivialization of violence is hard to swallow. Secondly, what can be deemed believable in this movie is stretched to insanity. Why does Tony Stark tell the terrorists where he lives? Why do we need him if anyone at all can wear the Iron Man suit? Where are the rest of the Avengers? I can go on and on. Third, the movie is too fast, so that we don’t have the time to really get scared or be concerned about any of the characters. Conflicts and resolutions come and go. The less is more approach could really help Shane Black who directed and co-wrote this frantic movie. But when so much money is at stake, the temptation to overdo is far too strong.
Sadly, Iron Man 3 is like its post-credits sequence: it’s kind of funny and cool but it’s kind of bland too, and you are not sure if waiting for eight minutes of music and names on screen is worth it.
Verdict: Iron Man 3 is entertaining enough to fly by as quickly as its fast-paced, slightly neurotic script. The only good thing about its shortcoming is this: there is always room for improvement.