Iron Man 2By Karen Wilson
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language
Release Date: May 7, 2010
Running Time: 2 hours and 5 minutes
Plot Synopsis: Six months after billionaire industrialist Tony Stark announced to the world he was Iron Man, he opens the Stark Expo to show off new inventions. But even though Tony has "successfully privatized world peace," both the Russian inventor Ivan Vanko and weapons manufacturer Justin Hammer want to best Tony. Tony realizes the toxicity from the Iron Man suit is damaging his already weak heart and he might die unless he finds a replacement battery for the device powering his ticker.
Vanko follows Tony to the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo where he unveils his power suit and nearly kills Tony before the police apprehend him. Hammer then busts Vanko out of jail and they team up to create flying suits to rival Iron Man.
Meanwhile, Stark makes his former assistant Pepper Potts the CEO of Stark Industries and he's hired a new assistant, the mysterious Natalie, who turns out to be a super spy for S.H.I.E.L.D. – a secretive espionage and law enforcement agency. Tony and his friend Rhodey have a falling out and Rhodey takes one of the Iron Man suits, which he gives to the military. Everyone converges on the Stark Expo where Vanko uses his robots to try to kill Tony.
Sex/Nudity: Jokes alluding to sex or sexual practices—for instance, an attractive journalist "did quite a spread" for Tony Stark, and Tony tells a panel of senators "you can count on me to pleasure myself." Tony stares lasciviously at beautiful women such as a U.S. Marshall giving him a subpoena and his assistant, Natalie. Justin Hammer says he hopes he'll get laid at the Stark Expo. At the end of the movie, Tony and Pepper Potts kiss passionately and Tony tells Nick Fury, he and Pepper are now in a relationship.
Violence/Gore: Anton Vanko, Ivan's father dies of old age, and Ivan's very obviously distressed. With a special blood toxicity meter, Tony discovers the electronic heart device that is keeping him alive is also killing him. Ivan Vanko crashes numerous cars on the Grand Prix track by slicing them in half with the electrified whips attached to his suit. Tony and Vanko fight in their robot suits on the racetrack. Vanko escapes from his French prison and brutally kills numerous guards in the process. A drunk Tony shoots at wine bottles and watermelons in his house during his birthday party. He sends his guests running in fear when Tony and his friend Rhodey fight at the party while in Iron Man suits. Vanko hangs two guards who've been assigned to watch him. He unleashes an attack on the Stark Expo with an army of robots, which Tony and Rhodey have to destroy one by one. Natalie and Happy infiltrate Hammer Industries and fight their team of security guards. Tony and Rhodey fight Vanko one more time hand-to-hand in their robot suits.
Profanity: Some casual swearing, such as cranky Senator Stern using a four letter curse word at the end of his senate hearing.
Which Kids Will Like It? Teenage boys will enjoy Iron Man's battle to save the world again though they may find the complicated plot a little boring.
Will Parents Like It? Adults should continue to be amused by Robert Downey Jr.'s droll performance and the movie's whiz-bang computer generated effects.
Kaboose Review: Two years ago Iron Man snuck up on the movie going public even before the summer movie season began. With great action sequences and a dry sense of humor courtesy of Robert Downey Jr.'s excellent understated performance, the film sold over $98 million dollars worth of tickets in the first weekend alone. Understandably anticipation for Iron Man's sequel this summer has been high. Unfortunately, Iron Man 2 doesn't quite deliver—it's lacking an element of surprise that gave life to the first installment and its overly complicated plot and unnecessarily elaborate action sequences weigh down Downey Jr.'s trademark joie de vivre.
Most of cast—the first Iron Man's secret weapon for success—has returned as good as ever for this new installment (with the notable exception of Terrence Howard whose part as Iron Man's friend Rhodey was recast with Don Cheadle) and they've also added a few new well-chosen players.
Academy Award-nominated actor Mickey Rourke plays one of Iron Man's nemeses, the unhinged Russian inventor Ivan Vanko and he's quite menacing, especially when he's wearing his makeshift Iron Man-like suit which features electrified whips that can chop through moving cars. Even his fixation on his pet white cockatiel is creepy. Iron Man's other enemy is more of a comic foil, with Sam Rockwell playing weapons developer Justin Hammer. The way Rockwell communicates Hammer's condescension, incompetence and cowardice in a few choice turns of phrase is priceless. He takes the role of the weasely hypocrite to new heights.
If only these fun performances weren't bogged down with so much superfluous plot. For instance, the characters travel to Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix race where Tony Stark decides to drive a racecar—on a whim—all so we can see a massive car crash when Tony goes head to head with Vanko's electrified suit. It's a flashy sequence with a series of massive explosions and a CGI-version of Rourke, but it doesn't really advance the story. They are expensive pyrotechnics for their own sake.
The finale is equally and unnecessarily overblown as Tony and Rhodey battle a whole army of robots Vanko has created to destroy them. All of this action isn't thrilling, it's numbing. Without the witty sparing between Downey Jr. and the rest of his cast mates, Iron Man 2 could be a video game that cares only about racking up kill shot points, not telling a compelling story.
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Don Cheadle (James "Rhodey" Rhodes), Sam Rockwell (Justin Hammer), Scarlett Johansson (Natalie/Black Widow), Mickey Rourke (Ivan Vanko), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan) Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), John Slattery (Howard Stark)
Movie poster courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Karen Wilson is a freelance writer living in New York City.