Director: Shane Black (2013)
Fresh from super heroically saving the world in 2012’s mega successful Avengers Assemble, Robert Downey Jnr returned in 2013 as wayward genius Tony Stark and his Iron Man alter ego in this souped-up, buddy movie throwback to the ’80’s.
Downey Jnr’s usual accomplices Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle are joined by Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall and Ben Kingsley.
Stark has been suffering from insomnia and nightmares. The result is more conflict in his personal life.
Meanwhile, the US is rocked by bombs planted by a terrorist called the Mandarin, played by Kingsley, who seems immune from capture.
After Stark challenges the Mandarin on TV his home is attacked and destroyed. His armoured suit is broken and his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Paltrow) is kidnapped.
In three films Potts’ demeanor has changed from mother to wife to cheerleader girlfriend.
The President’s life is threatened and Stark, lost in the middle of nowhere, sorry,Tennessee, and has to find a way back. He’s helped by a reasonably annoying schoolboy to whom he thankfully gives short-shrift.
Then another, more creepy, danger appears in the shape of blonde mullet-wearing biotech genius Aldrich Killian (Pearce). In Starks’ world, the bad guys have the worst haircuts. It’s why he doesn’t get along with Thor.
Any subtlety this film series might have aspired to is abandoned in favour of an explosive pace. There are super-enhanced bad guys with red eyes, a jaw-dropping mid-air rescue from Air Force One and a thunderous fight in a dockyard.
The plot rockets along to its explosive conclusion on the rickety roller coaster of a 1980’s action movie vibe, scooping up characters and jettisoning them overboard as soon as their ability to fuel the ride is extinguished.
Stark and Col. Rhodes (Cheadle) are cartoonly heroic under fire as they bat endless quick-fire banter between each other like a super-powered Murtaugh and Riggs from the Lethal Weapon franchise. No great surprise as the first of those films was written by one Shane Black.
But the women don’t fare so well. Paltrow has killer abs and is very cute when she’s angry. The hugely talented Hall is wasted in a small role. A bikini pageant takes place in winter – but it’s Christmas so that’s OK. Ho ho ho.
It is all very familiar but never dull; the comedy is broad, the girls are sexy and the special effects are state of the art.
I was thrilled by the first Iron Man movie, this is a return to form after the disappointing ‘difficult’ second film.