Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jon Favreau.
Directed by: Jon Favreau
In the sequel to the 2008 blockbuster movie adaptation of “Iron Man”, we begin with Tony Stark already having revealed his identity to the world and the United States government wants his technology but Mr. Stark isn’t so fast to give it up to them. Tony Stark proclaims that his armor acts as a nuclear deterrent, thus maintaining world peace. Tony Stark is popular everywhere and loved by the entire world. Meanwhile, Iron Man’s latest villain, Ivan Vanko, has developed the same type of technology and is intent on giving Stark a big challenge. If that wasn’t bad enough, Justin Hammer, CEO of Stark’s rival company, is trying to create the same exact technology but done better. And just to make things far more worse for Mr. Stark, he comes to find out that the same device that’s keeping his heart alive has begun poisoning his own body, subjecting him to a slow death, which leads him to appoint his assistant Pepper Potts as the new CEO of Stark Industries and leaving newcomer Natalie Rushman to take her place.
“Iron Man 2” presents a lot of challenges for our hero to overcome, which is good. This also brings additional allies (like Nick Fury and Natalie Rushman aka Black Widow) and villains (like Ivan Vanko and Justin Hammer) into the mix. However, unlike the case with “Spider-Man 3”, the film is not cluttered nor boggled down by all of this. This is because everyone’s relationship is cleverly intersected for the most part. Hammer employs Ivan to work for him, Nick Fury and Black Widow are already working together and partner up with Stark, and so on. The story unfolds in a rather understandable fashion as a result.
Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke give excellent performances as the villains, especially Rockwell’s Justin Hammer. Rourke’s Ivan Vanko makes for quite a menace for Stark to face, although the finale battle with him isn’t as satisfying as the initial one on the racetrack. Don Cheadle replaces Terence Howard’s role as Lt. Colonel James Rhodes, making for a smooth transition. Scarlett Johansson is mostly eye candy for the film but she does well with what she is given. Jon Favreau and Gwyneth Paltrow also reprise their roles from the first film to a satisfying degree. And last but not least, we have Samuel L. Jackson, who is… well… his usual badass self.
Then there’s the action of course which is set up quite intricately here, if you enjoyed it the first time around, then you’ll love it here just as much. “Iron Man 2” is certainly no ‘Dark Knight’ but it does deserve to be right up there with other appreciative sequels like “Spider-Man 2”. The film’s conclusion leads it wide open for a third entry. Not only that, it drops a couple of precursor bits to the upcoming “Avengers” movie, after the finale battle and then after the ending credits. As for “Iron Man 3”, well, if it’s as good as this one or better will tell us whether or not it will be diagnosed with the “Spider-Man 3” syndrome.