Iron Man (12A)



Action (2008)
125mins US

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer(s): Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Billionaire industrialist and inventor Tony Stark is kidnapped by insurgents during a weapons demonstration in Afghanistan. The radical group demands that Tony use his technical expertise to build a devastating Jericho missile, which can be used against American forces. Instead, the inventor and fellow prisoner of war Yinsen use their time in captivity to fashion an ultra-strong suit of armour and orchestrate a daring escape bid. Once returned safely to America, Tony uncovers a devastating plot with horrific global implications. He joins forces with beautiful assistant Virginia "Pepper" Potts and good friend, Lieutenant Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes to save mankind.

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LondonNet Film Review
Iron Man

With great power comes great responsibility... and an equally great temptation to abuse that power for significant personal and financial gain...

Iron Man. Paramount Pictures UKThe tug-of-war between altruism and materialism, selfishness and selflessness, is at the very heart of Iron Man, Jon Favreau's marvellous nuts and bolts realisation of the red and gold armoured Marvel Comics superhero. Following the lead of the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises, Favreau devotes the majority of the opening hour to the characters. He establishes their personalities, insecurities and the underlying tensions (attraction, jealousy, irritation), which light the fuse on an action-oriented second half, awash with spectacular visual effects and animation from the technical wizards at Industrial Light & Magic.

The central role of a billionaire industrialist, whose conscience is pricked after a brush with death, fits Robert Downey Jr like a titanium-plated glove. He's charming and roguish yet reckless with other people's emotions, and he galvanizes a sizzling screen chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow as the beautiful personal assistant who barely flutters a perfectly mascara-ed eyelash at the endlessly array of one night stands who parade through her employer's cliff-side Malibu mansion. When one of these waspish floosies dares to suggest that she is nothing but a glorified skivvy, collecting her boss's laundry, the assistant nurtures a wry smile and flexes her claws: "I do anything and everything that Mr Stark requires, including occasionally taking out the trash." Meow.

Iron Man. Paramount Pictures UKDescribed effusively as "a visionary, genius and American patriot", inventor and consummate playboy Tony Stark (Downey Jr) has followed in the formidable footsteps of his father - a titan who proclaimed, "Peace means having a bigger stick than the other guy" - as CEO of the global weapons manufacturing business, Stark Industries, with guidance from right-hand man Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges). During a demonstration of the devastating new Jericho missile close to Bagram air base in Afghanistan, the Stark convoy comes under attack and Tony is captured by insurgents under the command of Raza (Faran Tahir), who demands that the inventor uses his technical expertise to build another Jericho missile, this time to engage American forces. Instead, Tony uses his time in captivity to fashion an ultra-strong suit of armour.

Held hostage for three months, Tony forms a strong alliance with fellow prisoner of war Yinsen (Shaun Toub), a medical doctor who affixes a crude electromagnetic device to the industrialist's chest to prevent embedded shrapnel from piercing his heart. Together they orchestrate a daring escape from their prison deep within a labyrinthine cave system. Found wandering the desert by his good friend, military advisor Lieutenant Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Terrence Howard), Tony returns home a changed man. "I saw young Americans killed by the very weapons I created to protect them," he tells a crowded press conference then announces the immediate shutdown of the weapons manufacturing arm of Stark Industries. Unfortunately, members of the board have other ideas and freeze Tony out. He is soon fighting for control of his own company, aided by his feisty assistant, Virginia "Pepper" Potts (Paltrow).

Iron Man. Paramount Pictures UKIron Man is terrifically entertaining, fuelled by Favreau's kinetic direction, strong performances and some thrilling action sequences. Downey Jr relishes the comic asides of his character before the physical and moral transformation into his eponymous crusading alter ego ("They've been dealing under the table. I'm going to find my weapons and destroy them!" he rages.) Repartee with Paltrow promises plenty of laughs, like when Pepper stumbles into the lab to find Tony's robots struggling to remove his armour. "Let's face it. This is not the worst thing you've caught me doing," he grins. Bridges adds plenty of bombast but Howard is almost surplus to requirements. Potential for a bigger role in the sequel is made explicit when Rhodey stares at Tony's spare suit and sighs, "Maybe next time." Tony's initial tests in his laboratory are a hoot, investing his robotic assembly line with almost human qualities (especially the fire extinguisher) and keep your eyes peeled for the obligatory cameo by Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, who Tony mistakes for Playboy legend Hugh Hefner at a swanky charity gala.

- Sam Cannon

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