Shane Black directs Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce and Gwyneth Paltrow in this superhero sequel where Tony Stark finds himself without his armoured suit of tricks while hunting down The Mandarin.
Now… this one holds up. Tonnes of fun. RDJ is vulnerable rather than smug, witty rather than overbearing. Black doesn’t just inject his usual caustic banter, Christmas setting and zigzag plotting but understands how to make Tony Stark work as a hero. The inhibition of having a genius in an exoskeleton with an app for every crisis is it gets very repetitive seeing that hero merely select the right defence system from inside a secure shell. Here we crack the star out of his tin can so we can savour quirky set pieces involving weaponless Iron Man, powerless Iron Man, DIY low tech Iron Man and ‘just a gauntlet and a boot’ Iron Man. And the director really cooks up quirky dynamics with each variation on this theme. So that by the epic finale when Stark and Co. are jumping from suit to suit hoping to land in the right one at exactly the right moment to stop the murderous bad guy it genuinely is exhilarating. Villian-wise, the now infamous Mandarin twist is clever clever but kind of overshadows Guy Pearce’s main threat – his spurned scientist genuinely seems immoral and unstoppable until the final moments but maybe needed a few more time-outs to register as more than serviceable. The opening act is a wobbly hangover of previous chapters but after IM3 jumps the rails of what you expect it to be, this hit proves itself as more a Shane Black movie than a Marvel one. An hour in and we are riding a breathless, good natured blast right up until the end credits (and beyond). This exceeds all other Stark-centred adventures.
Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk
We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/