Not as I’d hoped a documentary on the art of removing creases from clothing with steam but enjoyable cinema nonetheless. Robert Downey Jr is Tony Stark, an inventor/playboy/weapons company CEO whose success with the ladies is closely matched by his technological genius. I know a lot of mechanical engineers and none of them seem the type to drive an Audi R8 and cop off with glamorous Vanity Fair hacks but then, I never was much good at writing comic books.
Stark’s blithe attitude is stripped away when he is taken hostage by terrorists while demonstrating weapons in Afghanistan. Having escaped with the aid of another captured engineer, who fitted Stark with a chest magnet to keep embedded shrapnel from entering his heart, he returns to the US and ad libs a press conference in which he announces an end to his company’s arms dealing.
Stark’s transition from a dashing and self-centred cavalier into a responsible corporate citizen with a desire to change the world is a little unsatisfactory. On his return to the US, Stark announces his company is out of the weapons business but does nothing to push that through, retreating instead to his lair to perfect the suit he made his escape in. To what end seems unclear (even in his head). He is stung into positive action only when he is shown photographs of his erstwhile captors terrorising a village with the aid of Stark Industry weaponry. This part of the movie is one or two well-chosen lines of dialogue short of complete.
Luckily there are many more satisfying interludes; Stark and his assistant “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) sharing a charged dance at a company ball, Downey effortlessly building his character’s likeable rogue credentials in the back of a Humvee, Stark scolding his dog-like helper robot not to mention some cigar and scenery-chewing from Jeff Bridge’s Obadiah Stone.
The technology looks slick, the action rolls along at a good pace and the cast play it with a sense of fun that carries the audience with them. And my inner (OK, not so inner) nerd loves all the suit-building scenes.
Interestingly Marvel are setting up sequels as well as a cameo for Downey in the forthcoming Hulk movie. Expect a whole lot more superhero at your local cineplex for the foreseeable.