Ant-Man is the latest installment in Marvel’s ever-expanding cinematic universe. Paul Rudd stars as the world’s tiniest superhero on a larger-than-life adventure. So, is it any good?
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a skilled cat burglar, freshly released from a three year stint in prison for – you guessed it – cat burgling. Determined to go straight once and for all, he sets about finding a legitimate job, though his efforts are thwarted when his criminal past catches up to him, and he finds himself quickly unemployed once again.
We learn that Scott has an adoring daughter, Cassie (played by the hilarious Abby Ryder Fortson), who lives with his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her new cop boyfriend Paxton (Bobby Cannavale). Maggie forbids ex-con Scott to visit with their daughter until he gets an apartment and turns his life around. Jobless, and without much hope of getting his life in order, Scott gets pulled back into the orbit of his criminal past.
Scott’s former prison cellmate Luis (Michel Peña) receives a tip-off from a dubious source about a safe in the basement of a rich old man’s house which is supposed to contain enough loot to solve all of Scott’s problems. They pull off a seemingly impossible heist and break into the safe, only to find some sort of costume, which the audience will recognise as that of Ant-Man.
It soon becomes clear that the heist was merely a ruse to test Scott’s stealth breaking and entering skills by a genius scientist (not to mention the first to don the Ant-Man suit long before the Avengers were formed) Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).
Hank Pym and his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) must train Scott in the ways of Hank’s incredible Ant-Man suit, which allows him to shrink down to the size of an insect, summon extra-human strength, and command legions of ants to do his bidding. Together they set a plan in motion to infiltrate the headquarters of Hank’s former company, which has been seized by his villainous protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has continued Pym’s work by constructing a prototype shrinking suit of his own called the Yellowjacket.
All they have to do is break in, destroy the suit, and get out. Simple, right?
Ant-Man harks back to a simpler era of Marvel movies. Its charismatic and likeable characters, simple and restrained plot, and lighter tone, means it is closer in similarity to Iron Man than it is say, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There’s not a single infinity stone, alien, or talking (or even dancing) tree to be found. Much like its star Paul Rudd, this is action adventure movie has an endearing laid-back, charming quality, which is likely to get you chuckling at least once.
My only gripe is that I felt like it didn’t go far enough with the silliness. Writer/director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs The World) was originally on board to helm Ant-Man, and went so far as to complete a script, begin casting, and previewed test footage at San Diego Comic Con in 2012. Much to my enduring sadness, Edgar and Marvel parted ways due to “creative conflicts” and a new team was brought in to chop and change Edgar’s and Joe Cornish’s original screenplay to fit Marvel’s vision. Unfortunately, this means that it feels like the script was cobbled together. There are glimpses of the all-out wackiness and humour of Edgar’s original vision, which has been tempered by more conventional plot stuff to even things out and tone it down.
Still, it remains an unpretentious, fun heist movie with Paul Rudd as a superhero who rides an ant. And in my book, that’s worth the price of a ticket.