Having served three years in San Quentin for burglary, ex-con Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is eager to be home and to stay on the straight and narrow. When a job that is too good to be turned down appears, however, Lang finds himself taking on the task in the hopes of winning back his daughter. It turns out that the job was not one for money or jewels, and the only thing left in Hank Pym’s safe – for it is he Lang is burglarising – is a mysterious suit. Lang soon realises the suit has the ability to shrink him to miniscule size and, while initially sceptical, eventually joins forces with Pym to keep the technology out of the wrong hands.
There has been a lot of talk around Ant-Man – not least because of the departure of director Edgar Wright – and this week, it finally graces our cinema screens. With Wright out of the director’s chair and Peyton Reed in, there is a lot of focus on Ant-Man to give the Marvel Cinematic Universe a shot in the arm, but can it deliver?
Paul Rudd seems like a great choice for the fast talking Ant-Man/Scott Lang, and although he look great and has a couple of comedic moments, he is largely underused throughout the film. The same goes for Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, who just seems to be a vehicle for exposition. Evangeline Lilly gets a moment or two of her own as Hank’s daughter Hope, but these are not really enough to give us an insight into the character. The rest of the cast is made up of Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Pena, TI, Judy Greer, Hayley Atwell and John Slattery.
The story, originally written by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, and taken over by Adam McKay and Paul Rudd, spends much of the film focused on exposition and set up for Ant-Man’s next outings. There are a couple of giggles to be had, and smatterings of Edgar Wright throughout, but there is also the feeling that his script was funnier and smarter. The pacing of the film is rather lacklustre, with only the final 20 or so minutes being the ones that are filled with action and daring, and even then, these 20 minutes never really seem to put anything on the line; the action is never ramped up, and Lang realising he is expendable means the audience never truly roots for him… And the villain is never quite villainous enough.
As director, Peyton Reed never truly manages to find the balance between fun and danger, allowing the characters to fade into the realm of the generic, and the action never to truly take centre stage. Again, there are touches of Edgar Wright in the direction, but there is the feeling this comes from the script, rather than choices made by ‘director for hire’ Reed, and the pacing, action and danger somehow fall flat. The visuals for the film are strong for the most part, with a particular scene towards the end of the film standing out.
In all, Ant-Man is not the film to rid us of our ‘Marvel Fatigue’; in fact, it may well deepen it. There was a chance for Ant-Man to be smart, funny and filled with action, but instead, there are surprisingly few laughs, the film gets caught up in exposition and the action never truly thrills. Seriously disappointing, especially seeing as Rudd had the potential to make Ant-Man great.