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Iron Man 3

We examine the man behind the iron suit in this fun, nonsensical action flick

Robert Downey Jr. dons the Iron Man suit in the third installment of the comic book movie. <<© Paramount Pictures>>

After saving the world from alien invaders with his Avenger pals, billionaire playboy/part-time super-suit inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.: The Avengers) is having trouble sleeping. It seems that a wormhole full of vicious invaders, a brush with death and the enormity of being Iron Man have caught up with the usually unflappable superhero.
    Stark treats his PTSD by refusing to discuss his trauma and spending long nights tinkering on new versions of the Iron Man suit. Long-suffering girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow: The Avengers) is too busy running Stark Industries to realize the full extent of her love’s imbalance.
    While Tony avoids sleep, a new evil orchestrates explosions on American targets around the world. Known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley: The Dictator), the terrorist breaks into television stations with cryptic threats against Americans and the president. In spite of his fears, Stark calls out The Mandarin.
    Challenge accepted. The terrorist destroys Stark’s home, threatens his girl Friday and ruins the Iron Man suit. Alone in the world, Tony must figure out whether he can rise to heroism without his magnificent tech toys.
    There’s a pretty good chance that Marvel won’t kill off Iron Man, who is easily the most popular character in the comic-film franchise. So don’t expect a ton of suspense about whether Tony will triumph. Still, Iron Man 3 crams enough plot and character ideas into its two-hour timeline that you’re pretty effectively distracted from the obvious outcome.
    Director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) takes an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to blockbuster action. You get Iron Man, The Iron Patriot, a global terrorist, a hoard of Iron Warriors, super soldiers, government conspiracies and a dragon (kinda) to keep you occupied. By the credits, your head is buzzing with so many loud action distractions that you don’t bother about the gaping plot holes.
    Seriously! With a global terrorist incinerating Americans, Captain America, Nick Fury and the other Avengers feel no need to get involved?
    Saving Iron Man 3 from Michael Bay-esque cacophony are great dialog and better performances. Black, who was an integral part of Downey’s comeback from addiction in the mid-2000s, also co-wrote the script, which features whip-smart turns of phrase and a lot of diverting humor. It’s a huge upgrade from the disappointing Iron Man 2.
    As Stark, Downey embodies the likeable arrogance that makes this particular superhero interesting. In other hands, Tony would be an insufferable alcoholic, but Downey is able to add charisma to Stark’s troubled demeanor. Downey proves why he remains the world’s biggest star.
    Though Downey turns in a great performance as our hero, the supporting characters are standouts. As The Mandarin, the decidedly non-Chinese Kingsley turns in a brilliant and darkly comic performance. The character is a fine piece of commentary about the prudence of focusing on the face of evil. To tell any more would spoil the fun.
    Also making an iron impression is Guy Pearce (Breathe In). As Aldrich Killian, a slighted nerd turned sleazy think-tank head, Pearce clearly has a ball with the role and projects a creepy intensity in his scenes with Pepper and Tony.
    Iron Man 3 is hardly a perfect film, but it’s a great popcorn flick to start off the summer blockbuster season.

Good Action • PG-13 • 130 mins.