Re:View – ‘Iron Man 2’
Attempting to escape from deepening gloom over the election and the world financial crisis, I headed off to watch modern-day knights thumping hell out of each other. Or rather, they don’t, because this is a cut above bubblegum entertainment, centring more on governmental shenanigans and boardroom politics than saving the world from evil.
Which is a good thing; by accurately reflecting its Marvel origins, the film invests its characters with more personality, and their interaction becomes more intriguing a proposition than merely staging a WWF smackdown for two hours. Plot; Robert Downey Jr’s mad bravado increases in direct proportion to the growth of his life-threatening illness, and his increasingly erratic behaviour affects all those who love and/or work for him. Whereas Spiderman is afflicted with self-doubt, Iron-Man has been repositioned as another flawed hero, with too much ego and possibly no time left to live. This is why film versions of ‘The Fantastic Four’ have failed so badly; their characters (which were always underdeveloped) disappeared beneath the action sequences instead of shaping them.
Here Director Jon Favreau gives sidekicks Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle more to do, Scarlett Johansson provides sexy duplicity and Mickey Rourke reprises his ‘Wrestler’ performance to good effect. For me, the pleasure that emerges is that of a well-crafted story provided with good dialogue, not just the smart-ass irony we usually have to endure in movies based on comics. In a less certain world, there’s room for a kind of modest honesty rather than all-knowing confidence.