Originally written for movies.ie
We join Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) as he deals with the fall out of the news that he is Iron Man. Stark now not only has a company to run, but he has a Senate hearing to deal with, along with new enemies and a whole host of new allies. Stark has managed to annoy a lot of people by not handing over the Iron Man suit like the Senate and military want him to, but he still has people on his side… Doesn’t he?
First of all, let’s start with the story. Stark is not fighting to save the world this time, he is fighting to save the Iron Man technology from falling into the hands of the government. In comes Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) with a family grudge. His attempt to kill Stark fails and he lands in prison, only to be sprung by Starks real world rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). This is where it gets muddled. Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) is really keeping an eye on Stark – while looking really good in a skintight cat suit – on behalf of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Stark makes Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) the CEO of Stark Industries and then has a little freak out (and a flash of genius) about his issues he has with his long dead father.
There is a whole lot of that plot that could have been left out. It doesn’t seem as though the SHIELD/Nick Fury sub plot is necessary, especially seeing as we already have James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) who – despite some to-ing and fro-ing – comes down on Stark’s side when it matters, but then there is more going on here than simply Iron Man. There’s an Avengers movie a-coming. The daddy issues work for Stark because it allows him to create a new element, which eventually saves his life, but this was brought in by Nick Fury and his gang, so maybe that could have gone too. Should the film have kept the plot simple and focussed on the relationships between Stark and Potts, Hammer and Vanko? It seems so. None of these relationships is properly fleshed out, which leaves us with the feeling that something is lacking.
Apart from that, the movie is great. Robert Downey Jr – both as Tony Stark and as Iron Man – is on great form. It is easy to see that he has great fun playing the self-confessed narcissist, Tony Stark. The one-liners sparkle, the banter is witty and the man looks good in a suit. He also knows how to make an entrance. But we knew this. We knew RDJ was great as Iron Man from the first film; it’s just good to see he has not lost his touch.
Sam Rockwell is fantastic as Justin Hammer – a character whose narcissism is only outstripped by Stark’s. Rockwell starred in one of the great films of last year – Moon – so we know he is a great actor. This should come as no surprise. The same goes for Mickey Rourke – he came back from obscurity and immediately won an Oscar, so again, no surprises that he seems to inhabit the role of Vanko from the inside out. Not too sure about the Russian accent, but he can be forgiven because one thing Vanko does remind us of is that cool guys most certainly do not look at explosions. Cars, walls and robots blow up all around him, but Vanko just keeps on walking… Even when the clothes burn off his back, he just keeps on walking. He is that cool.
The girls are underused in the film, although Johansson’s Natalie Rushman makes a nice contrast to Paltrow’s squealing, screaming and ultra girlie Pepper Potts. Potts may be able to run a company, but she seems incapable of staying cool when a Russian madman is smashing up her car and boyfriend. It gets annoying. Johansson, on the other hand, takes out a whole corridor full of security with not a hair out of place. The characters are fine, they do what they have to, but neither the characters nor the performances are going to set the world on fire. Johansson does get changed in the back seat of a car though, so that should be enough to keep the teenage boys happy.
The attention to detail in the film is pleasant; not only through the one-liners in the script, but also the visual details. Hammer appears to have self-tan all over his hands, you could argue that this was a mistake, but it appears that Hammer is just the kind of man to slather himself in tan in the struggle to look good, effortlessly. Also, Potts drinks from a can of Dr Pepper (ho ho!).
Yes, there are a lot of fights. There is ass kicked in the movie. There is an Iron Man suit in a suitcase, there is a pure silver one, there is a weapon called the ‘ex-wife’. A whole car park full of cars is smashed up, along with the Stark Expo, Stark’s Malibu home and half of New York state. The soundtrack is damn good. The villains are just the right amount of bad (although the good guys are too many) and at the end of it all, Iron Man wins the day. What more do you need? The movie, like most movies, is flawed so don’t go into the movie expecting your life to change, it won’t. If you do, however, go in expecting some good fun, fast chases and clever one-liners you will not be disappointed.