Tuesday, May 11, 2010

JayRo Watches Movies: Iron Man 2

If you read reviews of Iron Man 2, you might be lead to believe that there are too many villains in the movie, and they clutter up the film. You would be lead to a wrong conclusion.

There are two antagonists in the film: Whiplash, as played by Mickey Rourke, and Justin Hammer, as played by Sam Rockwell (who channels Gary Oldman). Hammer really isn't a villain in the movie. He is introduced as kind of an anti-Tony Stark. Hammer's inventions consistently do not work, he fails at getting a contract with the Department of Defense while Stark succeeds, and Hammer is a failure with the ladies, while Stark is Tony Stark.

When Whiplash makes a move on Stark, Hammer sees this and then arranges to put Whiplash in his employ to create Hammer's own version of Iron Man suits. Both are driven by their desire to see Tony Stark's life in ruin. However, Hammer is never in control, and never shows himself to be a threat of any significence. Instead, he serves as Whiplash's enabler, providing the funding and resources to build out his "Iron Man" suit army. Hammer is never situated as a true threat to Stark; instead his role is more of foil and plot accelerator, and I'm not sure what others were expecting from his character.

One overriding theme in the movie is control. Hammer attempts to exert control over Whiplash. Whiplash wants to control (and destroy) Stark's legacy. Pepper Potts struggles with control of Stark Industries. James Rhodes attempts to control Tony Stark as Iron Man. And Stark wants to keep his self control as he searches for a cure for his poisoning. How each handls their attempts at control drives the plot and contrasts the various characters. For being a superhero movie, there is an attempt to elevate the film beyond it's simple basis.

But it's the simple base that makes the movie work. This film is the Robert Downey Jr. show, plain and simple. He owns the film, overshadowing even the effects. Without him, the weaker plot could be overrun rather easily. Instead Downey's presence lets you overlook any flaws in the film. He makes the film so enjoyable that the fight scenes are a delightful treat.

I recommend this movie for anybody who enjoys a commanding performance or who enjoyed the first movie.

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