The International Writers Magazine: Film Review
Iron Man 2
Starring Robert Downey Jnr, Scarlett Johannsen, Mickey Rourke
Directed by Jon Favreau
Two years ago ‘Iron Man’ was the surprise hit that launched (literally) a new superhero onto our screens. Now Iron Man is back and bigger than ever. The first entry in the franchise grossed over $600 million so Paramount has pulled out all the stops to ensure a successful return to form.
The story picks up with the World fully aware that playboy billionaire inventor and industrialist Tony Stark (another excellent star turn from Robert Downey Jr) is the superhero Iron Man, a nice twist to the usual superhero film where personal identities are kept secret. Stark revels in the fame, attention and accolades he receives from the adoring public. Life seems good as he opens the ‘Stark Expo’ a huge showcase of his talents and inventions. There are however, dark clouds appearing on the horizon.
Facing pressure from the US Government in the form of US Senate hearings headed by waspish Senator Stern (Gary Shandling on fine form) and with severe health problems Stark is soon on the ropes. The US Government wants him to share his technology with them and a business competitor in the form of Justin Hammer (a slimy performance from the always watchable Sam Rockwell) is plotting Stark Industries demise.
Across the Atlantic Ivan Vanko (son of a Russian inventor who worked with Stark’s father and played with menacing relish by Mickey Rourke) bears a grudge against Stark that could have fatal consequences. He is soon proving to be a huge thorn in Stark’s side as alter ego ‘Whiplash.’ With Stark’s personal life in freefall thanks to some riotous partying, his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) under huge strain, it is up to old friend Colonel James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes (Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard) and some new allies to help Stark to face his problems head on.
There is a lot going on in this sequel but unlike say ‘Spider-man 3’ where the plot and characters became so dense the story became clogged up and the action contrived, ‘Iron Man 2’ deftly avoids this and the film flows along nicely. The wit and humour is a huge factor in making this a likeable superhero franchise, the audience I sat with laughed heartily on several occasions at this entry. The action when it comes is like an adrenalin shot: full on and very very fast!
The film does sag a little in the middle, but the rest is so good that you can forgive it that. Scarlett Johansson, Jon Favreau (director) and Samuel L Jackson all excel in supporting roles. This film is not all about special effects and eye candy, its success is due to the excellent performances from everyone involved. There were no weak links and no over the top camp histrionics that have mired other films in this genre. Stark’s world weariness, narcissism and biting sardonic wit make for the perfect anti hero. A hero for our times. Yes at times it does play like a Republican’s wet dream with all the hardware on the screen, but the proceedings are all tongue in cheek and it does not take itself at all seriously. Whether you are eight or eighty you will enjoy this film with its blend of eye popping action, effects and humour. Roll on ‘Iron Man 3!’
© Daniel Cann April 30th 2010