None of the Iron Man movies has been as good as The Dark Knight (2008), but their mix of spectacle and droll comedy goes down a lot easier than the other franchise's thumping Sturm und Drang. One might even argue that their obsession with weapons manufacturing offers as interesting a cultural critique as the surveillance element of The Dark Knight, though the filmmakers have generally backed away from this idea as if it were a live grenade. This installment actually flirts with satire, sending its hero-in-a-can (Robert Downey Jr.) on a vengeful mission against a mad, bearded jihadist (Ben Kingsley) before yanking the rug out from under the neocon story line. There are some good laughs as well, most of them involving Downey's brutal put-downs of cute little kids. Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) directed; with Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce, and Don Cheadle.
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