Time Out says
Playboy weapons magnate Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is a greased amalgam of Howard Hughes, Hugh Hefner and C-3PO, complete with an enviable battery of glib banter and a goatee you could set your watch by. On a routine sales trip to the Middle East, his Humvee is ambushed by a terrorist cell and he is dragged away to a cave, where he is forced to reproduce one of his high-powered missiles with some scrap metal and a soldering iron.
Instead, Stark uses those materials to construct a suit of robotic body armour and flee from the extremists’ clutches. This channels his epiphany – perhaps long overdue – that profiteering from weapons is far from the Promethean zenith of overarching compassion he once thought it was. He returns a changed man and, with the help of his svelte assistant ‘Pepper’ (Gwyneth Paltrow) and best mate Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard), builds a shiny suit of armour with which he plans to put an end to warfare for good.
All this liberal hand-wringing comes much to the chagrin of the sinisterly named Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), Stark’s devious benefactor, who doesn’t shine to his peacenik jabbering one bit. Stane sports both a bald pate and a beard, a red flag combination in comic-book land if ever there was one.
Actor-turned-director Jon Favreau has proved with his past directorial efforts, including buddy comedy ‘Made’, Christmas film ‘Elf’ and kids’ fantasy ‘Zathura’, that he has a keen eye for character and can spin a decent yarn. Sadly, these two qualities are rarely apparent here, replaced instead by quick-fix one-liners and predictable set-piece gags. Like Iron Man’s suit, Favreau’s film feels like it has been meticulously assembled rather than lovingly formed. It’s little more than an elongated, episodic and sporadically charming introduction to the life of this mechanised millionaire superhero, light on both CGI and moral quandaries, and possessing neither the zip and sparkle of a ‘Spider-Man’ nor the brooding existential subtexts of ‘Batman Begins’.
Cast and crew
Robert Downey Jr