After saving the world, cocky arms-maker Tony Stark (Downey) is riding on his laurels and fending off attacks from his smarmy competitor (Rockwell) and a pushy senator (Shandling). Then a mysterious Russian (Rourke) nearly kills him with technology that matches his own. But Tony has another secret problem: his mechanical heart is killing him. He won't confide in his faithful assistant Pepper (Paltrow) or his best pal Rhodes (Cheadle), but he prepares to leave everything to them. Then the shady Nick Fury (Jackson) offers him another option.
Of course, all of this will boil over into a mammoth, whiz-bang action finale in which all of the strands come to a head while laying the groundwork for part 3. And even if this film feels like it suffers from attention-deficit disorder, leaping randomly through various under-written storylines, the film is lively and visually impressive, helped hugely by the emphasis on relationships between the more fleshed-out characters.
Downey is on fine form as a guy whose arrogance and charm leave everyone either hating or loving him. As before, his scenes with Paltrow simmer with chemistry, as their banter hints at the issues between them. And Johansson steps between them effortlessly in the film's best role as a sexy lawyer with a terrific secret. Meanwhile, Rourke and Rockwell deliver full-on performances in side roles that are packed with intriguing subtext even if they're not really allowed to develop.
Favreau wisely keeps the action more character-based this time, with less focus on the extremely cool effects and more attention to detail. Sure, a couple of pointlessly destructive clashes are here just for the fanboys, and there's more shattering glass than is strictly necessary. But most set pieces are exhilarating, mixing sharp comedy with grim brutality in a way that keeps us glued to our seats. Do we really need layers of meaning in these kinds of films? Just be glad it's not 30 minutes longer than this. Or in 3D.
Run time: 124 mins
In Theaters: Friday 7th May 2010
Box Office USA: $312.1M
Box Office Worldwide: $621.8M
Distributed by: Paramount Studios
Production compaines: Fairview Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fresh: 201 Rotten: 75
IMDB: 7.1 / 10
Director: Jon Favreau
Producer: Kevin Feige
Screenwriter: Justin Theroux
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle as Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman / Natasha Romanoff, Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, John Slattery as Howard Stark, Garry Shandling as Senator Stern, Paul Bettany as Jarvis (voice), Kate Mara as U.S. Marshal, Leslie Bibb as Christine Everhart, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Christiane Amanpour as Herself, Philippe Bergeron as Detective Lemieux, James Bethea as Security Force #1, Michael Bruno as Security Force #2, Kate Clark as Expo Fan, Luminita Docan as Russian Newscaster, François Duhamel as French Photographer, Larry Ellison as Himself, Adam Goldstein as Himself (as Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein), Tim Guinee as Major Allen, Eric L. Haney as General Meade, Ali Khan as 10 Rings Gangster, Evgeniy Lazarev as Anton Vanko (as Eugene Lazarev), Stan Lee as Himself, Isaiah Guyman Martin IV as AV Operator, Helena Mattsson as Rebecca, Keith Middlebrook as Expo Cop, Anya Monzikova as Rebeka, Margy Moore as Bambi Arbogast, Olivia Munn as Chess Roberts, Elon Musk as Himself, Bill O'Reilly as Himself, Alejandro Patino as Strawberry Vendor, Davin Ransom as Young Tony Stark, Karim Saleh as Guard, Brian Schaeffer as Hammer Expo Tech, Phillipe Simon as French Waiter, Jack White as Jack, Melanie Brown as Ironette Dancer, Krystal Ellsworth as Ironette Dancer, Victoria Gracie as Ironette Dancer (as Victoria Parsons), Gina Cantrell as Ironette Dancer, Renee Herlocker as Ironette Dancer, Jill Ann Pineda-Arnold as Ironette Dancer, Sandy Colton as Ironette Dancer (as Sandra Colton), Annika Ihnat as Ironette Dancer, Jenny Robinson as Ironette Dancer, Lindsay Dennis as Ironette Dancer, Jennifer D. Johnson as Ironette Dancer, Lindsay Rosenberg as Ironette Dancer, Hannah Douglass as Ironette Dancer, Brooke Long as Ironette Dancer, Rachele Brooke Smith as Ironette Dancer, Nadine Ellis as Ironette Dancer, Kylette Zamora as Ironette Dancer, Ted Alderman as News Cameraman (uncredited), Donessa Alexander as Birthday Party Guest / Expo Guest (uncredited), Martin Andris as Expo Greeter (uncredited), Cassity Atkins as Expo Patron (uncredited), Gregory Baldi as Monaco Grand Prix Restaurant Guest (uncredited), Elya Beer as Bartender (uncredited), Ayelet Ben-Shahar as Model (uncredited), Jordan Bobbitt as Little Girl at EXPO Gala (uncredited), Chris Borden as Dignitary / Expo Attendee (uncredited), Pete Brown as Air Force Major (uncredited), Basilina Butler as Tony Stark Racing Fan (uncredited), John Ceallach as Captain Anders (uncredited), Katie Cleary as Beautiful Girl (uncredited), Ajarae Coleman as Expo Guest (uncredited), Rick L. Dean as Monte Carlo Race Fan (uncredited), Timothy 'TJ' James Driscoll as French Prison Guard #2 (uncredited), Jasmine Dustin as Watermelon Girl (uncredited), Mark Casimir Dyniewicz as Justin Hammer Expo Attendee (uncredited), Sam Felman as Stark Expo Attendee (uncredited), Caitlin Gallo as I Love You girl (uncredited), Shakira Vanise Gamble as Pepper's Party Guest (uncredited), Paul Grace as French Prison Guard #1 (uncredited), James Granville as Expo Fan (uncredited), Kathryn Henzler as Expo Attendee (uncredited), Jennifer Lynne Johnson as Expo Attendee (uncredited), Mark Kubr as Prisoner (uncredited), Cameron Lee as Senate Page (uncredited), Jee-Yun Lee as Reporter (archive footage) (uncredited), Waymond Lee as Expo Guest (uncredited), Mathew Lorenceau as Prison Guard Chevalier (uncredited), Christopher Maleki as Reporter (uncredited), Richard Markman as Photographer at Senate hearing (uncredited), Bryan McCoy as Expo Guest (uncredited), Ed Moy as Awards Attendee (uncredited), Delka Nenkova as Russian Woman (uncredited), Tony Nevada as SWAT Sergeant Bellows (uncredited), Allison Ochmanek as Watermelon Girl (uncredited), Nicolas Pajon as French Reporter (uncredited), H.E. Victor J.W. Pekarcik III as White House Chief of Staff (uncredited), Erin Pickett as Expo Guest (uncredited), Olivia Presley as Expo VIP (uncredited), Steven James Price as Senate Gallery Member (uncredited), Kiana Prudhont as Expo Kid (uncredited), Kristin Quick as VIP Expo Guest (uncredited), Tanner Alexander Redman as 1960's Film Crew (uncredited), Tanoai Reed as Security Guard Fighting Happy Hogan (uncredited), Kelly Sarah as Stark Expo Attendee (uncredited), Torin Sixx as Pepper's Birthday Party Guest (uncredited), Peter Trenholm Smith as Senator (uncredited), Grace Stanley as Model (uncredited), Doug Swander as Party Guest (uncredited), Michael A. Templeton as US Senator (uncredited), Rosa Tyabji as Background (uncredited), Peter Sebastian Wrobel as Tony Stark Usher (uncredited), Maria Zambrana as Expo Attendee (uncredited)
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