Saying that Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2 is far and away the best big budget action movie of the year to date isn’t really doing it justice, even though that’s certainly true. But that’s not exactly shocking, since the competition hasn’t been particularly strong. What might be shocking is that it’s also the best romantic comedy of the year so far. Wild statement? All right, you compare the banter, the interplay, the chemistry, and the romance between Robert Downey, Jr.‘s Tony Stark and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts with any of the year’s other contenders and see who wins. Is Iron Man 2 perfect? No, I wouldn’t go that far. There’s a structure problem in that the first sections of the film move so fast and with such assurance that the film feels at least comparatively slow in the middle. However, it recovers from that with a much better third act than the first Iron Man got anywhere near. Iron Man 2 manages to navigate some very tricky fine lines. It isn’t pretentious and pompous like certain very serious-minded superhero movies, but it does manage to have a well-crafted more serious side. It’s certainly a pleasure to have a hero who isn’t all angst and gloom, yet the film manages to create issues and currents that lie beneath the surface without turning Tony Stark into a low-rent Hamlet. What really makes the film work, though, is the chemistry of the entire cast — Downey, Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, and Sam Rockwell all fit the film with an uncommon perfection that results in an action movie that’s as — or maybe even more — interesting when the action slows down.
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Theroux and Stan Lee
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau, Kate Mara and Leslie Bibb