2008 Running time: 114 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3

Synopsis

After Ang Lee's 2003 blockbuster Hulk, the next instalment in the story of the less-than-jolly-green-giant sees Bruce Banner (Ed Norton) holed up in Rio desperately seeking a cure for the gamma radiation poisoning that turns him into a shorts-shredding monster. Tim Roth is the Abomination, an elite soldier who squares up to the Hulk after a jab of the green stuff. Transporter director Louis Leterrier makes sure the action keeps coming while Norton brings a pleasing vulnerability to the role.

Director

  • Louis Leterrier

Cast

  • Edward Norton

  • Liv Tyler

  • Tim Roth

  • William Hurt

  • Ty Burrell

Review

In a caring age of anger management and hands-on counselling, you'd have thought that Bruce Banner aka The Hulk could keep a lid on it.

But no. This isn't a world of soothing words of reassurance, a pat on the back and months of therapy.

Rather, it's a world where The Hulk is being hunted down by the US military to realise their dreams of a supreme biotechnical weapon. No wonder he's just got to get mad, go all green and split his trousers.

Forced to flee America, where he's on the wanted list of renegade General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (Hurt), a low-profile Banner is making ends meet in a Brazilian shanty-town bottling plant.

He's got a heart rate monitor strapped to his wrist, is taking aggression control classes from a martial arts instructor and is in email contact with a New York boffin who's attempting to find a cure for his upsizing affliction.

However, when a suburban OAP in Nowheresville, USA, keels over after drinking pop contaminated by Banner's blood on the Rio production line, Ross is tipped off and sends in a team of crack troops to bring him back.

Led by ex-Royal Marine Emil Blonsky (Roth), all they manage to do is upset him, trigger off a giant hissy fit and get swatted away - "he throws a fork-lift truck like it's a soft ball", an incredulous Blonsky observes.

Realising the cure is back in the good ol' US of A, Banner treks back through the South American jungle to Culver University - the place where it all started...and the home of his estranged wife Betty (Tyler). But it can't be that simple.

After Ang Lee's flawed 2003 experiment Hulk showed he's more at home with kissing cowboys, French director Louis Leterrier goes for a leaner, more straightforward approach.

It's lifted by a winningly sympathetic performance from the ever-reliable Ed Norton, who had a hand in the script and genuinely makes The Hulk a character of biceps-bulging terror and contrite compassion.

There's also a knowing humour, particularly when a randy Banner has to cap a potential frolic with Liv Tyler in case his heart rate triggers the sort of climax he doesn't want.

The set pieces - particulary a ground-shaking ruck on the university campus - are well up to snuff and Blonsky's test-tube super-soldier - the vehicle-lobbing Abomination - is one of the better foes of recent superhero outings.

It hasn't got the wit of Iron Man or the doom-laden undercurrent of the Dark Knight, yet it's thoroughly enjoyable and comic fanboys will get a delicious frisson if they stick around for the closing post-credit sequence

Give it the green light.