Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Justin Theroux
Main Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L Jackson
Release: 30th April 2010 (UK)
Country of Origin: USA
Runtime: 124 min
An action packed sequel to the blockbuster hit, Iron Man 2 doesn’t pull any punches trying to better it. Indeed, facing stiff competition and inevitable comparison to every other super hero flick, it couldn’t afford to be anywhere close to lacklustre. It isn’t. On the contrary, Iron Man 2 crackles with excitement and thrills and delivers a satisfyingly concrete story too.
The hotly anticipated second film in what is looking to be an Iron Man Trilogy doesn’t waste any time easing you in but drops you straight back in the action, continuing on shortly after the global revelation at the end of the first outing that Tony Stark is in fact, the Iron Man. The production team had no easy task this round, attempting to up the ante on the original, set up a sequel and simultaneously begin introducing characters and plot lines to carry over in to future films of, for example, The Avengers and Captain America, both in the production pipeline. They don’t succeed flawlessly, but almost…
Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) isn’t a bad guy like Jeff Bridges was in the first film – he has a lot less lines, considerably less screen time and a dodgy russian accent that’s so thick you’ll struggle interpreting even his basic english. He’s a decent villain, but you won’t find yourself hating him, and he never seems all that much of a threat to Iron Man. The real villain of the piece, as loveable as he is, is Justin Hammer, played with glorious finesse by Sam Rockwell. Rockwell evidently enjoys the role and happily dominates the screen in all of his scenes. One particularly memorable moment sees Hammer dancing on to a stage to Average White Band’s funky tune, ‘Pick Up The Pieces’. He’s definitely got the moves; slick, stylish, effortlessly cool and sexy enough to turn on a eunuch. And speaking of sexy – Stark Industries has never had so much sex appeal now that the beautiful Natalia Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) has joined the team. When you see her in action it would be hard not to agree with Tony Stark: “I want one”. It can’t all be eye candy though (although it seems like it at times) and alongside all this glamour poor Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) seems a touch bland.
You could never claim that Iron Man 2 isn’t fast paced! Not many action hero films start with a boss fight. They tend to be reserved for the final few minutes in what has become a boringly inevitable segment of the super hero movie. Not so in Iron Man 2. Stark and Vanko/ Whiplash face off in the first ten minutes in an adrenaline fuelled exchange that showcases some seriously top notch CGI work. In fact, it’s worth making a note now, that where special effects are concerned, Iron Man 2 is extremely impressive.
Naturally Stark batters Vanko and leaves him to rot in prison, but not before providing a few technological tips about his weaponry to ensure that if he did ever get out…their final encounter will look a bit more flashy. Of course, pride goes before a fall and Tony Stark falls hard pretty soon after.
In fact, for a good portion of the film, the egotistical Iron Man comes across a little defeatist. He’s dying of palladium poisoning, he’s been subpoenaed and the US Government are demanding possession of the suit. Whilst battling evil is all in a days work for Stark, these relatively banal problems are just too much. He does what every troubled hero does – goes on a booze bender. It’s not as dire as it sounds. Whether it’s a drunken punch up fully clad in the suit, clay pigeon shooting with Champagne Bottles or busting clunky moves on the disco dance floor – it’s action comedy gold with extra comedy.
Yes, humour is a big part of Iron Man’s character and the film as a whole. Generally Downey Jr. handles it so fluidly you’d think he was that witty every day, but sometimes the quips are fired and misfired a little too fast to be enjoyed. He’s not the only one spouting one-liners though as it seems screenwriter Justin Theroux dished them out with abandon – even the bad guys ooze enough comic charisma to make you feel upbeat and optimistic about their treacherous scheming.
Iron Man 2 definitely asserts itself as the big brother to it’s predecessor and no doubt this will cause parallels to the other great action hero sequel, The Dark Knight. The fact is though, the films fundamentally differ in one significant respect: there is nothing dark and nothing menacing about Iron Man 2 – it’s simply a film that knows what the viewer wants and all but overdoses them on it. Director Jon Favreau has stepped up just about everything: bigger explosions, grander ego, funnier jokes and of course, smarter technology. Steel yourself – Iron Man 2 will blow your socks off.