If you want my opinion of whether to see this film, go for it. It’s a lot of fun. If you want a more detailed breakdown of its essential merits, see here: My review on BlogCritics. If you’d like a lonely observation from my cultural criticism superego, read below.
There are two Russians in this film: one is a beautiful judo-dancing spy woman, and the other is a hardened mafia-conditioned gulag prisoner.
Two pitch-perfect Russian stereotypes in an American action movie whose subtext is patriotic military-corporate cooperation in pursuit of world peace: even for a good movie, this might start to smell a little too strongly of Cold War nationalism. You know you have a problem when your movie is a case-study on entries from TV Tropes: Mother Russia Makes You Strong and Sensual Slavs.
People say you shouldn’t be unconventional for its own sake, but let’s keep it in perspective: every time you rely on convention for characterization, you give up a small but important chance to be creative, interesting, relevant, or whatever other virtue scores well in your book. It would NOT be hard to subvert these kinds of nationalistic stereotypes, at least a little. Favreau and his script-writers can’t really appeal to the comic books as a defense, either, since the Marvel film universe is actively reimagining the comic book universe (which has been mired in stereotype reinforcement for decades). Shouldn’t we take these opportunities to make something a little better-informed?Sorry to use my blog as a forum for bitching, but my positive evaluation of the film needs to be balanced out by my critical assessment, at least a little.