Captain America: Civil War - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
THIRTEEN films in and Marvel continue to find new ways to dazzle and amaze as they expand their superhero universe. Captain America: Civil War may have a lot to cram in but Joe and Anthony Russo, picking up where they left off with Winter Soldier, have delivered a movie that could just standout as the pinnacle of Marvel’s achievements to date.
Clocking in at a seemingly patience-testing two and a half hours, and built around the somewhat beleaguered concept of yet another superhero smack-down, Civil War deftly finds ways to seem fresh and exciting, fun yet serious-minded and even emotionally involving.
It’s an event movie that has everything and one that leaves you breathlessly anticipating what may still lie in store. And it’s certainly a film that demands repeat viewing.
Unlike a certain other superhero tussle (are you paying attention, Batman vs Superman), Civil War sets good guy against ultra good guy in coherent, believable fashion. And while doing so, it leaves you torn between who should win, even expanding its remit to real world concerns that lend the film a surprising contemporary resonance.
Picking up in the wake of the fallout from Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film starts out in Lagos as Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) leads an ill-fated mission against another former nemesis that results in a catastrophic intervention from Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), causing more civilian deaths.
With calls for the Avengers to be held more accountable for their actions, a political summit is set up in Vienna which Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is keen to get behind. But the proposed treaty is unthinkable to Rogers, who fears for the lack of autonomy that will surely follow.
As both men come to loggerheads trying to win their argument, a new blow is dealt by the detonation of a bomb at the Vienna summit, the apparent blame for which lies with The Winter Soldier, aka Rogers’ former friend and ally Bucky (Sebastian Stan).
Hence, while Rogers and his team go rogue attempting to find and prove Bucky’s innocence, Stark and his warriors unite to try and apprehend The Winter Soldier, while in the shadows a mysterious German doctor (Daniel Bruhl) sets into play his own plan for all parties concerned.
One of the most striking things about Civil War is the way in which it expertly juggles so many elements so successfully. It’s intelligent in the way that it uses its central moral dilemma (when and how to use superheroes) as an allegory for the current debate surrounding drones and the collateral damage they cause; it’s suitably serious and involving when dealing with the emotional complexity of the superhero guilt that follows each mission and the subsequent strains it places on long-term friendships; but it’s also immense fun in the way that it draws on humour – some of it laugh-out-loud – to punctuate proceedings every so often.
And it’s sure to balance the often stunning action with worthwhile insights into the various characters, whether furthering the nuances in both the Rogers and Stark characters, or introducing new ones in the form of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man – both of whom make huge first impressions.
Sure, some characters do get a little left behind, such as Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye (fun, but under-used), but it’s a small price to pay given how well everything else is handled.
And the Russo brothers do deserve a huge amount of credit for the way in which they restore faith in the superhero genre given the manner in which they find new ways to keep you entertained and even overcome the limitations of so many like-minded films.
For while this is most certainly about a smack-down between two superhero titans, the humanity at play almost makes Civil War feel the least superhero-like movie of the Marvel back catalogue to date. For the most part, scenes of city-wide devastation are kept to a minimum, making this feel surprisingly intimate and yet still big.
When it comes, the long-awaited six-on-six battle is something to marvel over. It’s ingenuity is staggering. There’s brilliant use of the Spider-Man and Ant-Man characters, comedy and tragedy jostling for position with one another, and surprising turns of events that keep viewers on their toes. It’s an exhilarating high-point of a film not short on them in the first place.
But even then the Russo’s aren’t done. There’s a sting in the tale that leads to a heart-breaking final act… one that brings closure of sorts to this particular story, while setting up fascinating new possibilities for future instalments.
And therein lies another of the movie’s master-strokes – to leave you thirsting for more at a time when fatigue could [and maybe even should] have long set in.
Captain America: Civil War is therefore a stunning achievement: one that far exceeds expectations to deliver one of the most thrilling superhero experiences you are ever likely to see.
Running time: 2hrs 26mins
UK Release Date: April 29, 2016