I was intrigued with much of the plot in Ant-Man, the atomic research and the technology of shrinking a human into a tiny creature. That thousands of these ants could band together to perform amazing feats is both comical and satisfying from the standpoint of the power in numbers. That they would need inside and outside control from humans fits nicely into the paradigm. The point about the dangers of weapons being in the hands of unscrupulous or self-serving characters is painfully relevant to the real world of today.
We see Scott Lang (Rudd), a mechanical engineer, being released from prison, and gradually hear his story about being a whistle-blower for noble reasons, his using some poor judgment, and his determination not to get involved in any kind of illegal activity again. A bit of comedy is provided by his friends in crime who welcome him with open arms and already have jobs up their sleeves for him.
Scott’s life is complicated in that he is not allowed to see his young daughter until he gets a job and an apartment and starts paying child support. But that is easier said than done when he has a criminal record.
The other path of the story is about a wealthy inventor, Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) and his grown daughter Hope (Lilly), from whom he is estranged. Pym has a formula that he has withheld from everyone else because it is so powerful he thinks chaos would result if it were in the wrong hands. It has to do with an adult putting on a suit and acquiring the ability to transform into a tiny ant that can easily slip into spaces and that, despite its size, has the power of the adult. And moreover Pym has recruited various species of ants to follow the bidding of The Ant-Man. His former protégée Cross (an apt name, played by Stoll) is infuriated because Pym won’t share the formula with him, and he has subsequently taken over his company by influencing Hope, the chairman of the board, to help him displace Pym. But when Cross is about to work out the formula on his own and sell the technology to men whose motives are untrustworthy, Hope gets worried and consults with her father.
Through Pym’s machinations, these two stories come together because he wants Scott to be the one to wear the suit. Hope is not happy about this at all, because she has clamored to do that herself; but her father refuses because it might endanger her life. A plan is ultimately worked out, and most of the film is about the struggle between the Cross and Pym camps—Pym trying to thwart Cross’s attempts to gain the technology and Cross desperately wanting to close the deal with the buyers.
The Marvel/Disney produced film directed by Peyton Reed is visually beautiful (cinematographer Russell Carpenter) and the special effects a delight to see. A sequence of Scott Lang going into sub-atomic levels is particularly impressive. Paul Rudd (who had a hand in the script) is perfect for his role, and of course Michael Douglas brings gravitas to his. The supporting cast of Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, and Michael Pena help bring additional humor, romance, and excitement to the plot.
As with most action movies, I think having the male characters engage in fistfights over and over is just absurd. In this one, even the scientists take ridiculous swipes at one another, and the filmmakers obviously take great satisfaction in wrecking property. I’m curious about why these two action sequences give some people such a thrill.
Paul Rudd brings sensibility to an action movie.
Grade: B By Donna R. Copeland