Weighty Punch

His goal is destroying America,and he bears grudge against it for everything from the killing of the Native Indians to its misadventures in the Middle East

Written by Shalini Langer | Published: April 27, 2013 1:01:34 am

Iron Man 3

DIRECTOR: Shane Black

CAST: Robert Downey Jr,Gwyneth Paltrow,Guy Pearce,Ben Kingsley,Rebecca Hall

***

His goal is destroying America,and he bears grudge against it for everything from the killing of the Native Indians to its misadventures in the Middle East. He shoots videos wearing dark glasses,against images of explosions,spewing venom and promising death upon America,whose nature he sees best explained through fortune cookies. He promises terror is his middle name. Otherwise,he is called ‘The Mandarin’.

By picking this famous supervillain from Marvel Comic books and reinventing him thus,highlighting the sheer idiocy of terror as well as the huge impact of it,Iron Man 3 sets just the right tone for this third film in the series.

If the first part was about both Downey Jr and Iron Man finding themselves — and what a piece of serendipity it was,to choose the actor for the role — the second was about pitting him against one as megalomaniac as him to show him the other side of it.

In the third film,Tony Stark (Downey Jr) has apparently made peace with his demons as well as come face to face with gods and aliens (The Avengers). Where does he go from here? That’s what this film seeks to explore,when Stark is faced with a global terrorist whose uncertain agenda somehow comes to be centred entirely around him.

He has perfected his gadgetry,has got an ideal computer that talks to him (the aptly named “Jarvis”,voiced by Paul Bettany) and now even has multiple metal suits that pick up the signals he is sending out and rush to his rescue. However,far from settled in,Stark is both battling anxiety attacks and an inability to sleep since his big run-in with aliens. These two worlds meet in an encounter between Pepper Potts (Paltrow),who has moved in with him,and an Iron Man suit in an unexpected bedroom scene.

What do the multiple suits mean for a man who has been forever haunted by one question — does the man make the suit,or the suit make the man? Particularly,for a man who has never allowed an easy answer to that question? Director Shane Black,better known as the screenwriter of action films such as Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,taking over from Jon Favreau,handles this conflict well — especially in having the suit literally fly to Stark in pieces,so that at times Downey Jr is half-Stark and half-Iron Man,hurting as much as the latter doesn’t in multiple encounters.

The action sequences are spectacular,particularly the destruction of Stark’s sea-cliff home and the skydiving scene where Iron Man rescues people who have been thrown off the US President’s plane. Stark also gets a chance to be back where he started and to see if he can do it all over again,with the help of a child.

What lets the film down is Pearce as the choice of the villain opposite Downey Jr’s undiminished charm offensive. He is pale,puny and unimpressive,plus armed with a technology that is a lot of mumbo jumbo at best — it grows limbs but also fires people up from within,literally — and saddled with a plan that hardly appears long-distance. Kingsley,on the other hand — one of the film’s hilarious highlights is when he is discovered for who he is — could have easily filled in those boots.

Iron Man 3 also suffers for having just too many encounters between Stark and Aldrich Killian (Pearce),only consistently showing up the latter’s weaknesses,rather than one dramatic and definitive one.

There’s very little of that mock un-selfconsciousness and insouciance of the previous Iron Man-s in Part 3,but trust Downey Jr to channel this growth of his character without losing basic sight of where it comes from.

It’s he who lends this blockbuster its punch,and for now,it is still a heavy punch.

SHALINI LANGER

shalini.langer@expressindia.com

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