You certainly get more booms and bangs for your bucks with Iron Man 2.
We return to find the fabulous Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) revelling in his Iron Man persona and milking the crowd for all he can get at the Stark Science Expo, an opportunity for him to show off his impressive hardware even while he’s being investigated for un-American activities (he won’t give his special Iron Man suit or its secrets over to the military). But a few uppity politicians are the least of Stark’s worries, over in Russia, another physicist (Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko) is fast nearing completion on building a suit of his own and with it he plans to take Stark out. That’s if Stark actually lives long enough to do battle with him because the substance that powers Starks body and suit is actually poisoning him and if he doesn’t find an alternative form of energy soon he’ll be fried.
Then there’s his arch-rival (played with great glee by Sam Rockwell) who is just dying to see Stark take a fall (and mop up all the lucrative military hardware contracts in his absence). On top of all this his ever-loyal assistant Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) is getting over-protective, while a new aide, Natalie, (a very sultry Scarlett Johansson) is about to demonstrate she’s anything but idle eye candy.
So, that’s the plot sorted, let’s dive into the action and there are some pretty impressive sequences here including a classic car race in Monaco, Natalie single-handedly taking out a team of hired heavies and Stark and his buddy Lt. Col. Rhodes (Don Cheadle) squaring up against a whole squadron of Iron Man clones. Director Jon Favreau handles all this with aplomb, it’s just the bits in between that drag slightly, even though Downey Jr does not put a foot wrong throughout (and Rourke is surprisingly good as the pesky Ruskie).
Unfortunately, there’s less humour or clever backchat than in the original and Johansson, having made such an impressive entrance, completes her SFX-enhanced kung fu moves never to be seen again. If you’re after a thrilling box office blockbuster then Iron Man 2 certainly hits all the right spots, it’s just there’s this lingering feeling if more work had been done on the plotting and script, it wouldn’t simply be thrilling, it would have been truly awesome.