Iron Man 3

They say nature abhors a vacuum. And in the immediate aftermath of The Avengers and the shocking alien attack on New York (yes, shark, jumping, etc. etc…..and amazingly no-one in this movie even vaguely thinks this is strange) RDJ’s Tony Stark is having a bit of a meltdown. He’s obsessed with his suits, he’s ignoring his girlfriend and he’s having panic attacks at the milkbar. And into this vacuum slips the ferocious, scary and utterly deadly Mandarin, a world-class villain who’s missing a world class hero. Factor in some genetic meddling, a dodgy politician or two, a mad scientist, some human bombs, a former love interest and a smart kid, and you’ve got the makings of a pretty entertaining movie.

IRON MAN 3

Did I like it? Yes, enough. The supporting cast – Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, Gwynnie Paltrow – were fantastic. Pacing, cinematography, big explosions, great! But I really just couldn’t ever get past Robert Downey Junior hamming it up like Nick Cage on crack. I found myself repeatedly unable to suspend disbelief while he was showing off just how clever and funny and entertaining he is. Entirely spoiled the whole movie for me.

A couple of other things about the film. 1. It filmed in North Carolina, courtesy of the NC State Incentives. The impact of this one film on the local economy is outrageous – $179.8 million in direct spending with 719 vendors in 84 communities across the state – $104.1 million spent directly on 2,043 jobs for North Carolinians. 2.) Separate Chinese scenes were filmed for the growing Chinese audience (one of the Chinese characters heals Tony Stark with acupuncture!). More here.

Traitor

Traitor is a subdued little story about a Muslim soldier called Samir (Don Cheadle) who’s deep-deep-deep undercover as an explosives expert with a  ruthless terrorist cell. When his government handler – the only one who knows he’s one of the good guys – is shot dead, Samir must avoid being clapped in chains by the FBI, prevent an appallingly grandiose nation-wide atrocity AND not blow his cover with the wingnuts.

So, it’s an almost-really-good film. I call it “subdued” in my opening, because with all that malarkey going on, it’s not a tense or thrilling ride in the style of, say, a Bourne movie. Having said that, it’s not without interest either  – the insights into the workings of the terror cell itself are fascinating, chilling and considerably more thought-provoking than the usual. Traitor filmed in Toronto, Marseilles and Marrakech in Morocco, though none of the locations are particularly stand out. Ultimately the whole thing is held together by the excellent performances of Cheadle’s Samir, and Guy Pearce as the relentlessly dogged FBI agent – though there’s a schadenfreude-esque plot twist towards the end that is particularly satisfying. Worth a squizz.