In the Picture
Iron Man 2
Directed by Jon Favreau
Biff-sock-bam-pow…etc etc. An action film with too much and not enough action, and then too much action when there is action.
The reprise of the Iron Man saga initially breaks the formula mould with its slow start introducing the soon-to-be metallic villain Ivan Yanko/Whiplash (Micky Rourke). Rourke is a master of malevolent villains, and with the necessary tattoos, scars, metal teeth and bad hair days, he adds a star villain rating to any film.
Our hero Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr), following his recent outing as the biff-sock-bam-pow-etc Sherlock Holmes, is back in his do-it-yourself metal casing with a range of health issues, business problems, invention upgrade demands, an issue with deceased dad and the ever-present superhero curse of copycat villains.
Downey Jnr is a fine actor, and he was most engaging in the original Ironman, but this film lacks the comedy of the first film, and Downey tends to get lost amidst the array of other plots and players.
Sam Rockwell is most annoying as the corporate military monster, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) turns up with a pirate eye-patch, and his own secret superhero club called S.H.I.E.L.D… and then there’s Scarlet. From her guise as business assistant Natalie Rushman (Scarlet Johansson) she suddenly and effortlessly moves into action woman mode as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow with a flurry of gadgets and tightly costumed karate kicks.
While Scarlet appears to be fighting other villains in her own movie, her role scores considerable value adding for the film, with major investment opportunities for Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D. and action woman Scarlet to feature in a new superhero series.
Nonetheless, putting all ironies aside, there is something sadly missing from Iron Man 2. There are far too many iron pots on display, and the character of the resplendent gold and maroon man of iron is hugely diminished by the addition of a silver side-kick Lt. Col. ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes (Don Cheadle), together with a small army of flying robotic iron men, and the inevitable iron villain Whiplash. By the final reel the air is thick with flying iron men…and then there’s Scarlet…and finally a kiss from secretary turned CEO Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
Iron Man 2 continues the ongoing film fascination with fantastical superheroes. Unlike his counterparts (Superman, Spiderman, Batman, X-Men, etc) Iron Man has gone public, and lives the celebrity world of a millionaire superhero. But just like his fellow superheroes, he must also do battle with an evil superhero whose powers are nearly as great as his own. Leading to the final, and far too busy, big budget heavy metal showdown.
Mad weaponisation is at the core of this film, as it is with most of the superhero sagas. The super crusaders have the powers and super weapons that the military want. The military will do anything to get the super stuff, and this inevitably results in monsters, madness, a super rescue in the heavy metal climax. Somehow the real world military never picks up on this formula of repeated super mistakes in these superhero movies.
Iron Man 2 is just too much, and never enough.
( for Whiplash and Scarlet)