Sunday, May 01, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Year: 2016
Directors: Joe Russo & Anthony Russo
Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, Tom Holland, Paul Rudd, Daniel Bruhl, Jeremy Renner, William Hurt

Plot: Collateral damage caused by the Avengers in their past attempts to save the world has been massive, resulting in the UN compelling them to sign an accord which will effectively have their activities policed and monitored. While Tony Stark is supportive of this idea, Steve Rogers is not, and a rift builds within the team. Things get worse when Bucky Barnes is set up for a terrorist attack on the UN, forcing Rogers to break the law to save his friend.

Review: 2016 is the year of the comicbook movies, and though the year is far from over, it's hard to argue the probability that the third Captain America film is the best of all of them.

The story is as follows: despite saving the world successfully from aliens, gods and robots, the Avengers have caused too much collateral damage for the UN to ignore. The world body plans to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will allow them to monitor and police the Avengers' activities. After being held accountable by a grieving parent of a victim, Tony Stark is on board with the idea. But Steve Rogers refuses, unwilling to let someone else dictate when to save lives and when not to. Then matters get more complicated when Bucky Barnes, Steve's old friend is accused of a terrorist attack on the UN, which results in the death of the ruler of Wakanda, prompting his son T'Challa aka Black Panther to seek revenge. Steve has to assemble a team to save Bucky as Stark assembles one of his own to bring them both in.

The Russo brothers, who previously directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, have done splendidly again. Working on a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the Russos combine great action sequences with a plausible plot on what it would be like if heroes fought each other and why. I like how they present neither side as being totally right, though as a comic fan myself, I can't help but choose one (not telling, though). Unlike Zack Snyder's recent superhero showdown film that took too much time to get to the action, the Russos waste little time and throw in a solid battle between four Avengers and Frank Grillo's Crossbones to start things off. There are a handful more of well choreographed action sequences, but the airport fight between Rogers and Stark's respective teams is superb to behold. It manages to be thrilling and funny at the same time, which is hard to do.

Every cast member puts in an excellent performance without a doubt, the main ones being Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. Evans continues being the stand up hero he's always been, only this time it's more of a personal reason than a general one, with Downey Jr contrasting him well as the guy trying to keep his friends out of trouble without being biased. Another impressive cast member is Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther, whose judgment is clouded by revenge, but not necessarily a reckless man filled with rage. I can't wait to see how he will fare in future Marvel films to come. The other newcomer to the Marvel universe, Tom Holland, impresses as Spider-Man, though to me, he isn't as endearing as previous incarnations have been, but it's not totally his fault.

The filmmakers ought to be commended for the incredible world building that they have done. Four years ago, The Avengers was successful because of all the Marvel films that have built towards it. Now Civil War is the result of all the films that have come before it (save Guardians Of the Galaxy), and it truly feels like their story has come full circle.

The only thing I can complain about is the limited screen time of Paul Rudd's Ant-Man and Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye, both showing up only at the half mark of the film. But the Russos give everyone else mostly equal time to shine, even allowing time for Paul Bettany's Vision and Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch to build something towards a relationship, like they did in the books.

Captain America: Civil War is truly a remarkable feat by Marvel Studios. For me, it's right up there with X2, The Avengers and The Dark Knight as the best comicbook films ever made. Highly recommended. (9/10)  

P.S.: As usual, stay for the end credits scene.

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