- 07 May 10
Too many subplots, too many villains and altogether too many Iron Men.
For half an hour, the second instalment of this unexpectedly gargantuan franchise looks like a parable about the hubris of mega-capitalism. The Cold War, evidently still in full swing, has produced conditions where one brilliant physicist (Mickey Rourke!) languishes in a shabby Moscow hovel, while his entrepreneurial American equivalent (RDJ’s swaggering Tony Stark) is launching a neon expo designed to make Dubai’s resorts look like cheap pier end lights on the fritz.
As Iron Man 2 opens, our flashy hero is whipping up enough messianic fervour to make Steve Jobs jealous while refusing to hand over his super suit to US authorities. “I’m your nuclear deterrent. I have successfully privatised world peace,” he trumpets at the gallery. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the film appears to whimper, these guys always win.
But wait. Behind the seductive trappings of his billionaire lifestyle, behind the private jets, fast cars and front row view of Scarlett Johansson’s bottom, hasn’t Mr. Stark’s wealth and power been won off the back of the workers? His dad, the man behind the money who appears as a Walt Disney clone in ancient corporate videos, may have stolen the science behind the suit from Mickey Rourke’s late father. Can it be that everything about Tony Stark is a lie?
Naw. This is Iron Man, remember? This is the franchise where capitalism rocks out to AC/DC. The heightened political agenda would not be a problem if the movie were a little leaner. Iron Man 2 is plenty fun in places, but there are too many subplots, too many villains and altogether too many Iron Men.
Angered by the death of his father, Mr. Rourke turns up in a rival Iron Man suit to wreck havoc on a Monaco racetrack. Meanwhile, Tony Stark may or may not be dying. Elsewhere, wannabe military-industrialist Sam Rockwell is planning to launch his own army of Iron Men. The film is already looking every bit as cluttered as Spiderman 3 when the Justice League pop up. Will Tony finally get together with Gwyneth Paltrow? Will he make up with BF Don Cheadle? Will he save the day? What was the first one again?
The increasingly convoluted plot is not particularly well served by director Jon Favreau’s insistence on smart arse, overlapping dialogue. The effect is zippy but as unfocused as everything else in the movie.