‘Iron Man 3’ proves the third time is a charm

"Tony Stark" (Robert Downey Jr) tinkers with his Iron Man suit in "Iron Man 3"
“Tony Stark” (Robert Downey Jr) tinkers with his Iron Man suit in “Iron Man 3”

In bowling, throwing a strike usually means you hit the target perfectly.  Three straight shots where you hit that target perfectly and make strikes is known as a “turkey”.  Iron Man 3 is certainly NOT a turkey, but it is the third straight film in the franchise that hits the target, perfectly.

“Tony Stark/Iron Man” (Downey Jr.) has his life just how he wants it.  He’s settled down after what happened in New York (in The Avengers) with his love, “Pepper Potts” (Paltrow) running his company and sharing his luxurious Malibu home.  But he can’t sleep.  He works incessantly, trying to improve his Iron Man suits.

At the film’s outset, Stark is narrating a flashback to New Year’s Eve, 1999 where he says something all began.  He was in Switzerland, and had a one night stand with a pretty, extremely intelligent botanist named “Maya Hansen” (Hall).  She wanted his help to resolve her DNA sequencing which would allow the body to become totally self-healing.  At this point, there’s a ‘minor glitch’ in her process that causes things receiving the sequencing to sometimes explode, giving off tremendous heat. Tony’s not interested.  He also blows off another scientist who was trying to start a think tank.  “Aldrich Killian” spent a long time waiting on the roof of the hotel for Stark to show, but he never does.

"Pepper Potts" (Gwynneth Paltrow) stares at the mask of the missing Iron Man in 'Iron Man 3'
“Pepper Potts” (Gwynneth Paltrow) stares at the mask of the missing Iron Man in ‘Iron Man 3’

In the present, a terrorist who calls himself “The Mandarin” (Kingsley) is setting off bombs around the world, and hijacking television signals to broadcast his anti-American hatred; and promise of retribution.  “President Ellis” (Sadler) promises retribution.  Killian, looking remarkably changed shows up at Stark Industries, seeking Pepper’s help with a brain mapping/DNA sequencing project, but she turns him down.  “Happy Hogan” (Favreau), formerly Stark’s chauffeur and now Head of Security at Stark Industries, suspects something is wrong with Killian and his assistant, a shifty looking man named “Savin” (Dale).

Hogan follows Savin to the famed Chinese theater in Hollywood and is nearly killed in the latest explosion set off by The Mandarin. Stark vows to kill the Mandarin himself, and that’s what leads to the scenes of helicopters attacking his house that we’ve seen over and over in the trailer.  Now Tony Stark must hunt down The Mandarin without his personal lab or army of armor.

The special effects and the action are exceptional.  Better still, the sense of humor used brilliantly in The Avengers is present here in just the right quantity. There is enough to allow the audience to laugh and enjoy those moments, without turning a comic book generated action piece into farce.

Rumors are swirling that this is the next to last performance for Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. Reportedly, the upcoming The Avengers 2 (due out in summer of 2015) will be his swan song in the role.  Let’s hope not.  They could re-cast the role but no one will play Tony Stark as well as he’s done in four films thus far.  Shane Black’s direction and the writing he and others did is first-rate.  Well worth the fervent hope that sometime before the end of the decade, we will be lining up for Iron Man 4.

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