Robert Downey Jr.
Running Time: 124 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A
The rule of thumb for a sequel is to bin any semblance of storyline progression and just up the ante with bigger, louder and more tedious action set pieces. This sequel to 2008’s suprisingly good Iron Man bravely bucks the trend and spends much of its time introducing the anti-hero Tony Stark and setting the scene. The problem is that it is a scene that has already been set – we know that Tony Stark is a fun loving, cocky, genius billionaire, there’s no need to have this rehashed to us over another hour of another film. However, Robert Downey Jr. is excellent again as he injects huge dollops of charisma into the loveable superhero.
Iron Man 2 returns to the story immediately after Stark has admitted to an adoring America that he is the metallic hero. The millitary are in a tizz because he won’t give them the suit and crazies like rogue Russian Physicist Ivan Vanko (Rourke) have found out how to replicate the suit and are intent on causing mischief. Meanwhile, Stark’s arms dealing competitor, Hammer (Rockwell) wants in on the action and will do anything to get his hands on the invention.
The biggest shame is that Favreau wastes the talented supporting cast for the majority of the movie. Scarlet Johansson’s character is mainly window dressing and has a very questionable purpose for being in the film at all, Don Cheadle’s ‘Rhodie’ is wasted as the pivot between the good guys and the bad guys, Gwyneth Paltrow irritatingly whines her way through and Mickey Rourke looks the part and even mumbles some Russian half decently but he’s not able to dislodge the RDJ one man show for long enough to develop his character. With the amount of time being spent delving into Tony Stark’s lifestory, motives, feelings, past-times and favourite sexual positions, colours and flavours of crisps, Favreau just doesn’t bother with the rest. Alongside the lead man only Rockwell comes out of Iron Man 2 with his reputation enhanced as the corporate villain of the piece.
It really begins to go belly up, as many movies do, with the introduction of Samuel L. Jackson sporting an eye patch as the ridiculously pointless Nick Fury with Scarlet Johanssen now in a catsuit as his sidekick. Then comes the inevitable finale which is an assault to every sense (I’m getting old) and with all humanity sucked out of it, it all boils down to us watching a computer game which I can do in a shop window at my local Curry’s Electrical Superstore. In the end, I couldn’t help comparing it to the climatic scenes of Avatar and finding it very underwhelming.
It's Got: More of the same, quality performances from Downey Jr. and Rockwell
It Needs: Better use of the peripheral characters.
A fun but pretty pointless sequel that retraces a lot of old ground and wastes a talented supporting cast in favour of an all-out blanket coverage on Robert Downey Jr.’s superhero.