Thursday, May 30, 2013

IRON MAN 3 (2013)

Beginning with 1987’s LETHAL WEAPON Shane Black spent a decade as an overpaid writer of big, smart-ass action movies. But dwindling box office mirrored the diminishing aesthetic returns, and Black vanished until his 2005 directorial debut, the underrated KISS KISS BANG BANG, a crackerjack comic thriller starring Robert Downey, Jr. The latest IRON MAN installment reunites director Black (who co-wrote the script with Drew Pearce) and Downey (as Tony Stark) and retains the prior film’s invigorating fusion of the wiseacre and the world weary, energizing a series in danger of becoming inert. After a fitful flashback to New Year’s Eve 1999 in which we watch pre-Iron Man Stark brush off eager technology maven Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) to spend the evening with pretty geneticist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), we return to present day with Stark attempting to recuperate from the apocalyptic attack on New York City by Loki (see THE AVENGERS). Traumatized and sleepless, he spends his nights tinkering in the lab while beloved but beleaguered Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) runs the business. The stalwart Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), meanwhile, changes his branding from War Machine to the Iron Patriot and becomes part of President Ellis’ (William Sadler) security team. An international terrorist calling himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) blows up the Chinese Theatre, which hospitalizes Stark’s right hand man Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and brings the inventor before cameras vowing harsh justice. Before a plan can be set in motion, Maya turns up at Stark’s home warning that Killian, her current employer, is in league with The Mandarin. Then all hell breaks loose. While the busy script keeps the action brisk and dialogue crackling, Black gives Downey and Paltrow room to hint at the deep feelings just beneath Stark and Pepper’s glib surface banter. This grounds the outlandish action and keeps human stakes high amidst the CG carnage. In the last decade Black and Downey, former poster boys of vapid excess, have seasoned with age, proving that you can be a grown up and still play with toys.

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