Iron Man 2
2 hours, 4 minutes
2 hours, 4 minutes
Picking up shortly after the end of the first installment, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr., Sherlock Holmes) sits before a Senate sub-committee that strongly encourages him to relinquish the Iron Man weapon into the responsible hands of the U.S. government. Contrarily, Stark believes the technology too advanced to be duplicated...until a psychotic Russian, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke, Sin City), shows up sporting a spanky arc reactor-fueled weapon of his own. Add to the government, villains, and rival company woes the pesky side effects of having an arc reactor implanted in his chest, and it's uncertain if Tony Stark, the man or the machine, can withstand the pressure.
RDJ still shines as the quick-witted, charismatic Stark. Don Cheadle (After the Sunset) replaces Terrence Howard as Stark's best bud, Rhodey. Apparently, Howard's head got too big to fit into the War Machine suit and producers had to let him go. Cheadle slips easily into the rhythm of director Jon Favreau's (Elf) story. Much like the first Iron Man, that rhythm is a fast-talking, explosive action flick, except for the chewy marshmallow center that audiences must gum through to reach the big-bang bonanza of an ending.
In that center, Scarlett Johansson (The Spirit) gets to kick butt and look good doing it; Gwyneth Paltrow (Emma) gets wasted as pouty Potts; and Sam Rockwell (Choke) sleazes it up as Tony's industrial nemesis. Audiences learn Tony gets his pompous attitude from his pop, Mad Men's own Roger Sterling, a.k.a. John Slattery. Audiences lax in basic logistics won't be bothered when Stark saddles up to race in the Monaco Grand Prix or turns his focus to nucleosynthesis using fifty foot of pipe and a monkey wrench.
So, a few plot elements are outrageous, but isn't this a story about a billionaire genius who flies around saving innocents in a homemade contraption? Since there is no such heroic lovechild of Richard Branson, Harrison Ford and Leonardo DaVinci in the real world, audiences can instead enjoy the wondrous CGI spectacle of Robert Downey, Jr as Iron Man.