This action-packed romp earns an 8.
Robert Downey Jr. continues his success playing the ego-driven, narcissistic hero, Tony Stark. “I am Iron Man.” He loves the adulation (and chicks) that comes with his new public role. He also faces personal issues as the side-effects of being Iron Man develop. It is a tough balance for an actor to portray, and Downey does a solid job bringing Tony Stark believably to life.
The rest of the cast put in a good performance, too, but are eclipsed by Downey. I didn’t recognize Garry Shandling as Senator Stern, who seeks to get the Iron Man technology for the government. His face is now quite flabby. Gwyneth Paltrow returns as Pepper Potts, Stark’s personal assistant and voice of reason. Scarlett Johansson is introduced as a sexy and intriguing employee from the legal department of Stark Industries. She is fun to watch. Don Cheadle continues his role as Lt. Col. Rhodes, another voice of reason and balance to Tony Stark. He isn’t particularly compelling, but I don’t think he could do much more with the lines and role that he was given. Sam Rockwell is excellent as the sleazy, unethical and spiteful CEO Justin Hammer of weapons company Hammer Industries, the primary competitor to Stark Industries for military contracts. Ah, Mickey Rourke. What a beautiful man… He does a durably decent job as villain Ivan Vanko. We are given enough background for him to be believable, but he does pull off some unlikely things as any super-villain does in these stories. It’s not a problem. He is more human and with more straightforward and believable motivations than many villains. He is a good choice for the role. And what movie would be complete without Samuel L. Jackson? He expands his role as Nick Fury of the Avengers project.
The plot makes sense. It takes the next logical steps that would naturally evolve from the first movie. The government takes a national security interest in Iron Man and Ivan Vanko rears his ugly (literally) head. It provides plenty of palatable action and excitement. That is all of the plot that I shall provide to avoid spoilers (and additional work by me).
Don’t forget to stay for the teaser scene at the end of the credits (like a certain me did).