Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), the expert cat burglar and ex-con recruited by the
original Ant-Man, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to don his old suit and
short-circuit the malevolent plans of Pym’s corporate successor Darren
Cross (Corey Stoll) to weaponize the miniaturization technology in
league with a villainous bureaucrat (Martin Donovan).
The mission involves lots of slapsticky training for Lang, with
plenty of comic pratfalls and bug-eyed reaction shots as he learns to control the process of shifting size and is
taught fighting techniques by Pym’s svelte, martial arts-trained
daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who’s also serving as her father’s
mole in Cross’s company. Our miniature hero must also learn how to
telepathically direct his army of helper ants, rendered electronically with
varying levels of persuasiveness, to do what they must to ensure his
success in derailing Cross’s plans.
There are a couple of
other plot threads that are meant to add depth and humor but mostly
weigh things down. One involves Lang’s domestic situation, with his
ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) involved with cop Paxton (Bobby
Cannavale) keeping our hero, who’s way behind in his child support,
from his doting, cute-as-a-button daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson).
This business relies far too much on Fortson’s rather cloying
lovability, and descends to the level of cheap child endangerment for
suspense when she’s taken prisoner by Cross’s miniaturized alter-ego,
the nefarious Yellowjacket, who uses her to lure Ant-Man into the
inevitable final confrontation.
Then there’s the addition of three stooge-like buddies of
Lang—motor-mouth Luis (Michael Pena), computer wizard Kurt (David
Dastmalchian) and homeboy Dave (Tip “T.I.” Harris)—to the team assembled
to break into the Cross Company and assist in Ant-Man's sabotage of the
shrinking process. These fellows are amusing in small doses—and one
bit involving them, in which Pena’s recitation of events segues into
flashbacks in which other characters are shown lip-synching to his
words—is actually pretty clever, and dexterously pulled off. But after a while they can get a bit tiresome.
More winning are Paul Rudd, whose light touch constantly reminds us not to
take the movie too seriously, and Michael Douglas, whose grumpiness—once he
gets to act his age after the opening bit—is mitigated by obvious
concern for his daughter and continuing grief over the loss of his wife
(her apparent demise explained late in the film).
There are points in Ant-Man where the scientific gobbledygook gets
rather tedious, and others where explanation is tossed aside as too
inconvenient to bother with. But that’s par for the course in these
comic-book extravaganzas, and probably won’t seriously impede the
picture from contributing to the
financial juggernaut these superhero blockbusters have come to represent for
Marvel and now Disney.