If Incredibles 2 hadn’t been 14 years late in the making, and there wasn’t a superhero movie coming out every other month, it’d could easily have been The Road Warrior of the Pixar stable. I’d be lying if genre fatigue hasn’t scrubbed a little freshness off the franchise.
Having said that, this sequel, even when it somehow begins to unfavourably echo Speed 2: Cruise Control towards the end, is muscular, breathtakingly kinetic and visually smashing, boosted by an eye-popping richness in colour and texture that could only come from years of refined digital craft. Despite reservations, I walked out of the theatre feeling like I’d just watched the year’s most exhilarating action movie.
Where the strikingly prescient The Incredibles took on the toxic fanboy, Incredibles 2 is very much of the Now, its slightly distended narrative preoccupied with gender politics, globalism and consumerism. In a switching of roles, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) parks his breadwinner duties to play an increasingly harried Mr. Mom, while fan favourite Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is thrust into the spotlight, becoming the face of a movement to overturn the outlawed, disreputable status of superheroes.
There are definitely beats that slip into naggingly stock zone—the spectre of Carpenter’s They Live looms unusually large over the villain’s masterplan. But Incredibles 2 hits enough exuberant peaks to overlook those quibbles. Anything involving Elastigirl on a bike and Jack-Jack discovering the destructive range of his polymorphic powers is dynamite, but I’m comfortable saying all of Brad Bird’s dexterous action sequences blow his live-action peers out of the water.