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Sun May 5, 2013
Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3
Director: Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Screenplay: Black (Lethal Weapon), Drew Pearce (Pacific Rim) Cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes), Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love)
Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 130 min.
by John DeSando
“I'm Tony Stark. I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. So why can't I sleep?”
You can’t sleep because writer/director Shane Black has made you this third time around the most interesting superhero since Superman flew onto the comic book scene. Played by the snarky, sardonic, witty, and conflicted Robert Downey Jr., billionaire Tony Stark, weapons maker and new-age hero, faces a terrorist menace named Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), whose likeness to Osama bin Laden is not a coincidence, and his accomplice, Aldrich Killian ( a memorably menacing Guy Pearce). In the end, however, the greatest antagonist for the insouciant hero is himself, who can’t sleep so consumed is he by the contradictions of his heroic mission.
The thriller tropes are all there, but Black has decided to use his writing experience for Lethal Weapon and obvious familiarity with old film comedies to enhance the repartee among the principle players, including Stark’s love and assistant, Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) and War Machine rival, Colonel James Rhodes (Con Cheadle). Yet more memorable than these talented vets is Ty Simpkins playing Harley Keener, a bright little boy who helps Stark, not just with electronics but also dialogue smart and fast reminiscent of the vintage screwball comedies.
Although Stark is a fast-moving one line organ (As he suits up: “You know, it's moments like these when I realize how much of a superhero I am.”), when he’s with the abovementioned characters, especially Harley, the humor is as fast as the ubiquitous missiles and subtly laden with thematic weight. The emphasis on witty dialogue made the difference for me between a good thriller and a great one.
Because by my count this is the fourth movie in a few months to center its action on endangering the president of the US (Olympus Has Fallen, GI Joe, and the upcoming White House Down are the other 3), I see a concern underneath our pop culture for the safety of our open society symbolized by the vulnerable president. While in general I am impatient with many film deaths and explosions, I am intrigued by how we can accept so much terrorism on screen, from 9/11 through Iron Man 3.
Perhaps these escapist entertainments help purge our fears by showing everything landing right for the country, its leaders, and its audience. If that’s too heavy for you, then see this film just to enjoy its state-of-the-art graphics, talented actors, and resolutions that will not leave you indifferent to the will of the American people to overcome their fears: “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!” (FDR)
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at WCBE.org. He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com