Not a lot to say here. It’s better than the second, not as good as the first. The story feels a bit musty and yesterday, with the enigmatic Bin Laden-esque villain. Tony Stark’s post-Avengers Stress Disorder is somewhat hokey, and the action sequences are not up to snuff.
What works is Robert Downey Jr. and his take on the character. Downey seems a bit tired, but his snarky attitude, obvious intelligence, and most especially his approach to the character’s humor make it a joy to be around this guy again. Downey delivers the lines with a laser intensity and speed as if his brain is already onto the next point (which it is) and that the time it takes to actually deliver the line is a necessary evil that he has to execute so that he can get on to the next thing. This fan of the series would have much preferred more Tony, more Tony and Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), less suspension of disbelief over the plot developments, fewer explosions, no PTSD, and a more subtle villain. But that’s just me.
Beyond the tired and consistently more ridiculous storyline, the direction is only adequate. It’s as if a student were writing a paper that hit all the necessary points, but only put them down on the page in proper order with no driving central organizing thesis, and little style. Director Shane Black, a screenwriter whose only previous directorial credit is Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, shows us everything we need to understand what’s going on, but the action sequences lack pop, and a there is a certain blandness of tone throughout. All the information is there; what’s missing is attitude and energy beyond that supplied by the lead actor.
Iron Man, especially as embodied by RDJ, is one of the great movie superheroes. Visiting him is always a pleasure. This film, however, is not. But memories of being with him will probably outlast memories of the film, which will likely fall out of one’s head in a few hours.