Product III

film 2 of 4

Iron Man 2

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 17, 2015

Robert Downey’s character, and Robert Downey himself, looks headed toward a kind of Screwball Squirrel situation. That is to say that they’re so obnoxious you can hardly stand them! Fortunately plot and technology and the blockbuster conventions/effects that presently fuel them both come barreling down the pike. Though with the aforementioned motor-mouth that just sounds like a recipe for intolerable noisiness, in Iron Man 2 the collision of forces all resolves rather nicely.  Specifically, the sum of those potentially contradictory parts is a really nice rollercoaster, with some actual human value thrown in for good measure. Rourke’s character (grimy, grimy) is a compelling new villain. Sam Rockwell—who appears to be a genius, plain and simple—takes his generically familiar place (Syndrome in Incredibles, Venom in Spider-Man 3, etc., etc.) as a counter baddy. In addition to antagonism, the good guys get pleasingly diversified as well. This means that the franchise is not just sitting on its laurels. They keep trying to get this guy to behave properly, and they more or less stand by him when he doesn’t. There’s some helpful reality there, with friend and family relevance for the kids to think about.

By the way, Rourke’s character is introduced or intercut just like Mr. T. in Rocky III. His disruption of the Grand Prix is pretty formidable! How can our hero, or the film, top it? Well, by comedy that’s not too absurd, and absurdity that’s not too comic—with plain good guy dutifulness, Agent Coulsen and Pepper/Gwyneth start driving the other way. That suit is fantastic. Cheadle is too—a kind of black Alain Delon (in a Melville film) to ground Downey’s character and performative excesses. The cancer parallels are poignant, as well as Tony’s eat, drink and be merry response. There’s just the right amount of despair and self-loathing in there. Kids will be drawn, or they’ll recognize, but they’ll not be corrupted. I’m not much of a Scarlet Johansson fan, but that particular infiltration is a consecutivity of derring-do for the cinematic ages.