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Robert Downey Jr is back.

It’s been almost 10 years since he stole Ally McBeal’s heart (and mine in the process). In those 10 years, he’s been in and out of rehab, making Amy Winehouse look like a mere petulant child. In fact, Larry Paul (the character he played) was written to break Ally’s heart because Downey Jr had been arrested for drugs possession.

Somehow, he’s kept me mesmerised all this time, even as a down and out drunk in Zodiac. In fact, while ploughing through the 22GB of music in my iMac recently, I came across an old track of him singing “Every Breath You Take” with Sting. It’s a really awesome track that I had forgotten about: the two men blending together in harmony, the suaveness of Sting’s voice complementing the slightly rough edges of Downey Jr’s.

There’s something really enigmatic and charismatic about him – you can’t help but fix your eyes on him. His effect on me is similar to that of Christian Bale. And while watching Iron Man at a special premiere (thanks to the cousin!), it’s apparent that he holds the centrestage and nobody, not even Gwyneth Paltrow in that token role, can hold a candle to him.

In Iron Man, he’s the playboy turned hero but a wicked, comedic twist. Tony Stark is wry, brutally honest, witty and extremely brilliant to boot. And as someone who changes his life following traumatic events (hello Batman?), Downey Jr is riveting. He plays Tony well, with a generous dose of charm, arrogance, confusion and then, subtle humility. At his lowest, you can’t help but cringe and fear. And when he is at his heroic best, your heart will give a little cheer as laughter falls from your mouth. Even when the plot feels threadbare, as most action films are, you ignore that practical side of your brain and carry on believing.

Watching a coolly sexy man at work is pleasant enough; watching a coolly sexy genius (hyperbole?) at work is like having ice cold water sliding down your back on a painfully hot day. As he puts together his gadgets and gizmos in a simple wife beater, the masculine curves of his biceps never look more inviting. And when he is striding around in that dapper suit, the smoothness of his gait is just too enticing.

Gosh, I’m gushing. But that’s the Robert Downey Jr effect for you. Without spoiling the show for you, all I want to say is that it’s great entertainment seeing actors getting tossed around like Transformers. And the little hilarious twist at the end was executed perfectly – not entirely unexpected but still a surprise nonetheless. It also sets up the sequel nicely, I can’t wait!

Fabulous fare for that lazy, hot summer night.

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