Too many characters, too much dialog, action sequences that seem uninspired at times, and a less than compelling story make this sequel a bit of a disappointment. You’d think they would care more about getting a good script, since even the 17-year-old boys are becoming weary of pointless, drawn out CGI “action.” Still, the film does hit a few true notes.
Party-hardy Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has already let the world know that he is Iron Man, but now he has to appear before a senate committee. It seems that Senator Stern (Garry Shandling, looking puffy) wants him to turn his Iron Man suit over to the US Government. Stern brings on Stark’s competitor Justin Hammer, who tries to make the case that the technology should not be proprietary, but the presentation bombs and Tony gets the last laugh—or so we think.
Meanwhile, though, mysterious Russian Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) hears his father on his deathbed blame all of their problems on Howard Stark, Tony’s late father and the elder Vanko’s former business partner. Ivan promises revenge, and will use some Stark Industries plans stolen by his father.
As Tony flits around the world, the scene changes to Monaco at Grand Prix time, and one of Stark Industries’ cars is entered. Much to the chagrin of his top assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), he commandeers the race car. Ivan shows up, dressed in his “Whiplash” suit and wreaks havoc on the track, until he is stopped by Tony, who fights him in his Iron Man suit.
Stark’s victory is pyrrhic, though, as now Tony’s contention that no one else has the iron man suit technology is disproven.
Too much of the movie deals with Tony’s self-destructive behavior, not to mention his body being slowly poisoned by the palladium-powered heart he installed in the original pic. Perhaps the most pointless scene involves a lengthy fight—in full Iron Man suits—between Tony Stark and best friend Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes (Don Cheadle). Samuel L. Jackson has a small role as the head of a mysterious security agency that needs Tony’s help, and Scarlett Johansson has way too little to do as a Stark operative.
The final confrontation has a great build-up, but ends on a curiously dull note.
***SPOILERS AND OTHER COMMENTS***
As to the “few true notes” mentioned above, Senator Stern is a grasping, slimy incompetent. Sadly, that description is more applicable to members of the real senate than most people might realize. The shenanigans between defense contractor Justin Hammer and Congress are also spot on, unfortunately. The fact that a thug like Vanko would be utilized at the top levels of DOD also has real-life parallels, along with the Colonel Blimp-like general, who briefly takes over the Iron Man suit project.
The way the media gush over Tony Stark is uncomfortably reminiscent of its fawning over real life celebrities, and its neglect of what was once the more serious business of journalism.
Movie Line crit Stephanie Zacharek is spot on with this observation:
The big problem with Iron Man 2, maybe, is that it so dutifully gives the people what they want, instead of giving them what they didn’t know they wanted.