WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE FILM IRON MAN
After publically announcing that he is Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has to cope with an inflated status of celebrity, as well as the U.S. Military threatening to repossess his suit and the arc reactor in his chest slowly poisoning him. This is aggravated by the sudden appearance of a mysterious Russian physicist, Ivan Vanko, who has a personal vendetta against Stark and his family.
Iron Man 2 is a decent enough film, but pales in comparison to the first. The standard of acting is just as good, with Downey Jr. again stealing the show. The supporting cast is still solid, with the uneasy alliance of Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler, Sin City) and Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell, Moon, Seven Psychopaths) shining through. The contrast works really well, between Rourke’s heavy-handed, clichéd Russian villain (complete with dodgy accent) and Rockwell’s slimy, sarcastic businessman, as well as Stark’s primary competitor. Although, there was one casting change that irritated me slightly. This was substituting Terence Howard as Rhodey with Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Flight). I’m not saying that Cheadle was terrible, just that I feel that Howard would have played the role better.
But the major flaw with the film is that it gets over-complicated with sub-plots. These include the development of Rhodey as War Machine, the involvement of Black Window (Scarlett Johannson, The Prestige, Girl with a Pearl Earring) the polluting of Stark’s body with palladium and his battle with depression and alcoholism. It was a good idea, and I’m glad it the director John Favreau (who also is Stark’s bodyguard, Happy Hogan) tried to be different to the first, but it spreads itself too thinly over many plot points which are executed badly. This is the opposite of its predecessor, because the reason why it was so good was because of its simple yet strong premise. However, one way that Iron Man 2 improves is because of its action sequences. They just look and feel more awesome, particularly the one at the Monaco Grand Prix and the climax, and are frequent enough without turning the film into two solid hours of explosions (*cough* Transformers *cough*).
Iron Man 2 is nowhere near as good as the first one. This is mainly because of its unnecessarily complex plot, which is disappointing as it could have been streamlined and generally tidied up. But its connection to the overarching Avengers universe makes it much more than a forgettable comic book flick. Finger’s crossed that the next one will be better.