Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Bobby Canavale, Michael Douglas, Judy Greer, Michael Pena, T.I. Directed by Peyton Reed.
Scott Lang is just out of prison for stealing from some kind of tech corporation after the firm has been discovered to be ripping people off. Lang used his computer savvy to return the ill-gotten money to customers’ bank accounts. His combination of technical aptitude and cat-burglar dexterity make him an ideal candidate to wear the Ant-Man suit, which not only shrinks him to the size of an ant, but also enables him to command ants to do his bidding.
The suit is the property of Hank Pym, who apparently was once involved with S.H.I.E.L.D. but left after a disagreement about how to use it. His estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne, has worked with his former protege, Darren Cross, in the company Pym used to run. Cross is close enough to duplicating the technology to worry Hope, who turns to her father to intervene. This is where Scott comes in.
Ant-Man is an origin story, so we are treated to extended sequences of Scott learning to control the suit and the magnified strength he has in his tiny form. He also learns to control ants of various species, each with its own abilities.
Rudd seems to be everyone’s favorite everyman (if that title doesn’t go to Jason Bateman), which makes him just right for this role, and he plays it with a nice vulnerability that sells the Ant-Man transformation better than a more machismo-laden actor might have. The film aims for several layers of sentimentality that, with a less sensitive actor, would never have worked. As it is, performances by Bobby Canavale and Michael Douglass work against that, but it might be the fault of the script, whose dialogue often comes right out of the comic book cliche factory.
Rudd’s likeable portrayal holds the movie together, and creative effects playing with the shrinking-enlarging technology keep things from getting too serious even in the midst of some pretty heavy action sequences. I’d welcome a sequel.