Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.
Iron Man 2 wasn't as good as its predecessor, but it had entertaining moments and a lot of potential.
Tony Stark is living the high life, even if it's killing him. He's on top of the world, having brought peace to the planet in a mere six months. But his supersuit is actually killing him from the inside out, and there's someone on the other side of the world who wants him deader even quicker. Seems Stark's father may have screwed over a Russian scientist, and now his son is out for revenge. Meanwhile, a defense contractor who has lost business to Stark Industries has his own reasons to bring Iron Man down. And with the government trying to take the Iron Man suit for itself, it seems that the world Stark once owned is closing in around him. But with the help of his friends, and a little group known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Iron Man may rise once again.
Iron Man 2 had a lot of goodwill built up based on the performance of the first film. Except it didn't capitalize on that goodwill and instead put together a convoluted story that didn't keep my interest. There were a couple of different story lines. One, the element that Stark uses to keep his Arc Reactor pumping, palladium, is slowly killing him as it enters his blood stream. So he's dying, while looking for something to use as a power source. This story line is sort of in the background a lot till the end when he miraculously comes upon a 30 year old solution that his father left him. Of course the manner in which his father left him the answer is something that no one could have ever seen. Why can't people just leave notes?
The second story line deals with the son of the man Stark's father may or may not have screwed over. Ivan Vanko has as much knowledge as Tony when it comes to all things energy (if not more) and uses that information to build his own destruction machine which could spell the end of Iron Man. But after a first confrontation on a race track (which admittedly, was pretty cool) the two are kept separate for almost the rest of the entire film. Vanko, as played by Mickey Rourke, is a great, scary character that should have had a lot more to do than play with computers and cockatoos.
A third story line deals with S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to recruit Iron Man to join them, which, while necessary for the Marvel franchise film The Avengers, strangely took us away from the other two story lines too much. Of course what that third story line brought was the entrance of Scarlett Johansson so I suppose I can't complain too much. Oh, also, Pepper Potts is given control of Stark Industries so Tony can spend more time... screwing around and getting drunk. The last story line deals with Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) as the head of a competing company named Hammer Industries. At every turn he's foiled by Stark/Iron Man so he teams up with Vanko to destroy Stark once and for all. But he may have gotten in a little too far over his head.
So as you can see, there's a lot going on, and none of the story lines got enough time. We kept jumping from one place to another instead of concentrating on one story. Yes, the Vanko/Hammer story lines connected but each still had their own competing reason for taking down Stark. One wanted him dead, the other only wanted Stark Industries dead. All that being said, the movie completely hinged on Robert Downey Jr. and his brilliant take on Tony Stark. Picking up from where he left off on the last film, Tony is full of himself and this time, he has a iron suit to back him up. Wherever there is trouble, Iron Man can fix it and he's on top of the world. But his palladium poisoning is also giving him a reckless streak that makes him even funnier. His one-on-one with a Senator was extremely funny, and even in the face of danger he has time for a joke. It could have been really cheesy but Downey manages to keep it under control. Without him, this movie could have been a disaster. I already mentioned how strong I thought Mickey Rourke was. Sam Rockwell was equally as funny as Justin Hammer. He didn't have a dangerous enough edge to make him frightening, but you could sense the rage underneath.
Don Cheadle steps in for Terrence Howard to play Lt. Col. Rhodes, who eventually becomes Iron Man's sidekick, War Machine. I don't think he really brought much to the role that Howard didn't bring last time. Gwyneth Paltrow was back again as Pepper Potts, Tony's right hand woman who takes over Stark Industries when Tony decides he's had enough. Much like the first film, she didn't have a whole lot to do than try and keep up with Downey and that's a losing proposition. And finally there's Scarlett Johansson as Tony's new assistant Natasha, who has a secret of her own. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, Elle MacPherson was given the nickname 'The Body' and I'm here to nominate Scarlett as the new Body of the 2010s. There are others who could give her a run for her money, but it's impossible to take your eyes off of Scarlett when she's on screen. Whether she's in her Lycra bodysuit or not, she's captivating. Her character? Well she doesn't do much but look good early on, but towards the end she gets to finally show her stuff in a pretty good fight scene.
Speaking of fight scenes, much like the first film the action was few and far between. There's the scene on the racetrack early on. There are a couple of small skirmishes in the middle, and then there's the final battle scene. For a movie that's 2 hours long and based on a man who can fly in an iron suit, you kind of expect a lot more action. A lot of sequels tend to take what people liked about the original film and focus exclusively on that. But instead of ratcheting up the action, this movie kept the same pace as the original. The problem with that is, now we're expecting more and instead of giving us more, this movie gave us the same... maybe even a little less. Yes the gadgets are cool, the actors are good, the battle scenes are exciting. But I saw that already. Give me something new and different and expand the characters instead of repeating them.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I was a little disappointed with Iron Man 2. The story lines weren't that interesting, and there wasn't enough action for my liking. But Robert Downey, Jr. and cast managed to keep me entertained anyway. And stay after the closing credits for one more important scene.