|FILM » IRON MAN 2
DIRECTOR » JON FAVREAU
STARRING » ROBERT DOWNEY JR, MICKEY ROURKE, SCARLETT JOHANSSON
WHEN SENT TO an action film that does not do what it promises you end up speculating about all sorts of things — such as the careers of its lead actors. While Robert Downey Jr rescued his career from himself and his addictions, Mickey Rourke had been drowning for decades. His return in The Wrestler and in Iron Man 2 does not clean him up. In real life Rourke is battered, bruised and bad in a way that makes Downey look a pretty teenager. Some of that narrative leaks into in this film.
The biggest spectacle this movie offers is Rourke’s terrifying entrance in the Monaco Grand Prix races as Iron Man’s tattooed, whipwielding nemesis Ivan Vanko. After that rush, one can only smile fondly at Downey ‘ups and downs, his smiles, his frowns’. Like someone said of Audrey Hepburn, Downey has a way of making his downs seem like ups. And that is something to be grateful for because what else are you going to look at? Gwyneth Paltrow as Iron Man’s purse-lipped secretary-turned-CEO Pepper Potts will make you turn into one of those male movie critics who detest the romance add-on sub-plots in summer blockbusters.
Then there is the lovely Scarlett Johansson who makes you long for the mindless action of Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider or even Wanted. Jolie’s piratical air — an invisible cutlass between her teeth — makes poor Johansson seem like she is in the live-action version of the Powerpuff Girls. She tries hard for inscrutability while playing Tony Stark’s (Iron Man) new secretary Natasha. Downey even tries to look fascinated, but, like him, our attention wanders to shinier objects. Like all the big metal gear or Sam Rockwell while he chews the scenery in his performance as oily arms dealer Justin Hammer.
If you wait in your seat after all the credits you get to see a clip from Iron Man 3. And that’s not a bad deal since Iron Man 2 is likely to leave you slightly discontented.