I’d like to briefly recommend that anyone reading this watch the film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ASAP. It’s the single greatest film noir of the 21st century, and it shows why Black was the right guy to take the helm of Iron Man.
As for Iron Man himself, he shifted from barely known B-list hero into Marvel’s top dog with the release of the extremely excellent Iron Man in 2008. The Dark Knight may be a slightly better film overall, but Old Shellhead is a hell of a lot more fun, and knows what it’s doing.
The sequel’s decent, but not nearly as bad as people say. It’s overstuffed as hell, features a nonsensical plot and some funny but lame villains. But it’s no Green Lantern.
Think of this one more as a sequel to The Avengers than anything else. The plot of that film is referenced several times, there’s brief flashbacks to it, and Stark gets panic attacks as a result of PTSD because of it. It’s strange to see the normally cocky Stark reduced to a mere husk of a man. It’s not particularly heroic, but it’s a natural transition considering what happened.
And what happens. An Osama Bin Laden lookalike called The Mandarin, clearly meant to invoke the terrorists that scare the hell out of us daily, complete with videos made entirely to scare the American people. It doesn’t go into full out patriotism, thankfully: the president’s a scammer, and he’s forced War Machine to rebrand himself as a propoganda device called Iron Patriot. Hysterically enough, until he decides to rebel, every attempt to stop The Mandarin goes painfully wrong.
Ben Kingsley’s a freaking revelation here. It’s kind of a shame that movies like The Love Guru exist in this guy’s resume, because the Oscar winner’s in true form here in his best role in years. Not only does he make for one threatening villain, but his complete change when his true form is revealed will shock you. In a good way.
There’s also Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian, a scientist who helps create a secret weapon called Extremis. What that weapon does is something you need to see for yourself.
But apart from the mindblowing action, which actually makes The Avengers look tame, it’s also an incredibly funny movie. Nothing ever goes the conventional Hollywood route. Stark in particular takes the worst of it: things keep going wrong for him in this movie. A piece of his armor may smash him in the crotch in one part, and then his armor shuts down when he’s about to be beaten up by more henchmen in another. Another weird occurrence: he keeps accidentally knocking off his own armor.
Either way, there’s something for everyone here. It’s a rare sequel, a third film in the series no less, that can manage to be automatically the best film of the year so far. Iron Man has succeeded where Spider-Man and the X-Men failed.
Directed by Shane Black
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley and Don Cheadle