The real gem, though, is Jackson as Stephen, a character so loathsome that audiences will want to throw their snacks at the screen any time his face appears.
The cast is major league. Pam Grier reestablished her career playing the title character and Robert Forster got an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Max Cherry, the soft-spoken and world-weary bail bondsman. But it is Samuel L. Jackson, over-the-top as the gunrunner and principal bad guy Ordell Robbie, who steals this picture.
Not to compare actors to superheroes, but this cast could easily have exploded in our faces; like their characters, each of these actors is famous in his or her own right. Some are A-list while others hover just below, and it takes a persuasive genius (shall we call Whedon a Nick Fury of sorts?) to gather them and get them to fight for a common cause.
For a movie about super soldiers, world domination, and rogue Nazi occultists, it packs surprisingly little punch. The flaw is not in the premise, but in the execution. Long stretches go by without a joke sticking, a blow landing, or an emotion ringing true.
Jon Favreau’s first Iron Man was a snazzy little number, cherry red and rocket-fueled and brimming with personality, even when it devolved a bit into action movie cliché right at the end. Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2, out this weekend, should really be called Iron Man Too, since in many ways it’s the same thing only more so. More high tech fight scenes! More montages! More outlandish billionaires! And, alas, more flaws.