Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Running Time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Bruhl
Civil War is the third installment in the Captain America series. Also described as The Avengers 2.5 since it involves many of the superheroes we’ve seen in The Avengers 2. In this installment, it picks up one year after the events of The Avengers: Age of Ultron where the Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (Hurt) meets with the Avengers to inform them that 117 countries have come together to pass the Sokovia Accords which establishes an international governing body to monitor the superhuman population. This results in a division among the Avengers with Iron Man (Downey Jr.) in favour of the Accords, believing that their actions must be monitored to avoid further catastrophes on cities and its residents. However, Captain America (Evans) feels that they cannot rely on the government to protect the world as he feels distrustful of governmental agendas and wishes the Avengers to remain free to act on their own terms. Things heated up when Captain America and Falcon (Mackie) went on a mission to track Bucky Barnes (Stan) in hopes to protect him from the police, causing the remaining of the Avengers to take sides with Team Iron Man comprising of Iron Man, Black Panther (Boseman), Black Widow (Johansson), Vision (Bettany), War Machine (Cheadle), and Spiderman (Holland), and Team Captain America consisting of Captain America, Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes, Falcon, Scarlet Witch (Olsen), Hawkeye (Renner), and Ant Man (Rudd). Will the Avengers stay together or will this feud tear them apart?
It took me two viewings of the film to be able to collect my thoughts about it. Without giving too much away, this is the best I can do in terms of conveying my thoughts on the film. So, the one thing that is truly great about this film is the non-stop action sequences from the first moment till the final scene. It guarantees to keep the audiences on the edge of their seats. Alongside the great action sequences are some solid character developments, especially with Cap, Bucky, and Iron Man. The Russo brothers have described this as a psychological thriller and I couldn’t agree more. With the film spending quite a fair amount of time on the relationship between Cap and Bucky, it is no surprise that there will be some darkness in the film as we learn more about Bucky’s transformation to Winter Soldier. Moreover, to build the tension between Cap and Iron Man, the writers have truly make use of the human psyche of revenge, anger, grief, loss, love, loyalty and betrayal to make the feud between the two parties a truly believable one as compared to the rivalry between Batman v Superman. So, the first commendable thing about this film is how strong and convincing the storyline is. The exploration of the grey area of who is truly right or wrong, the necessity of standing on your ground even when everyone you trust is objecting it, and the power of losing a loved one. This is why I loved the film, it didn’t dumb down the storyline, instead the writers and directors treated the audiences as people who have their own minds, their own views and thoughts on the subject matters highlighted in the film. Oh, and there seems to be a pattern emerging with the Avengers films lately, the ‘last look’ given by Cap, there’s another one in this film, and might I add, it’s one hell of a last look, tempting the audiences to wonder what’s going to happen next.
The other thing about the film that is truly commendable is what I previously mentioned briefly, the action sequences. The action choreographer has truly outdone himself in this installment, especially with the fight choreography for Black Widow, Bucky, Falcon and Cap (especially with the use of his shield). I had to stop myself from applauding every time the choreography looks so effortless and smooth. Kudos to the stuntmen and stunt women involved. In terms of the cinematography for these action sequences, for majority of the time it was shot beautifully, not too fast that you couldn’t process what just happened, yet there was no relying on slow motioning the sequences into Matrix-esque style. However, there are times where the angles chosen could’ve been changed, especially with the closeups during chase scenes, those weren’t my favourites. Like what a lot of people have said thus far, the airport hanger (fight) scene may be one of the best action scenes in a superhero film and I couldn’t agree more. It’s just such a feast on the eyes with the smooth special effects, fight choreography, the use of IMAX cameras, and humorous dialogues. I would also like to point out two of my other favourite scenes being the chase through the tunnel in Bucharest and the eventual conundrum in Leipzig. That helicopter scene with Cap that we saw in the trailer, trust me, that is one hell of way to show off Cap’s strength and limitations.
In terms of the cast, overall, the ensemble did a brilliant job, the writers did well in terms of splitting the screen time among the many characters. Newcomers, Tom Holland and Chadwick Boseman definitely stole the scenes that they were in, gearing the audiences for Spiderman: Homecoming and the Black Panther solo film. I would have loved to see more of Paul Rudd as Ant Man since he too stole a lot of the scenes he appeared in with his comedic quips. The chemistry between Renner and Olsen is hard to ignore which explains why they were both cast in another film, Wind River. I’m also very pleased with the added screen time on Mackie as Falcon. There are also some great cameos by Alfre Woodard, John Slattery and Jim Rash.
Lastly, not to forget, Henry Jackman’s score for the film may not have stood out in the film the way Hans Zimmer’s score does in the DC films, but when you strip the music away from the film, you can then truly appreciate the emotional core and greatness of the score. I think it took me two viewings to fully process and digest the film because there is simply too much happening in the film, both emotionally and action-wise. To view it first in IMAX-3D form could have been the reason why I needed another viewing. Not that it was bad in 3D, it simply made everything appear in a grander scale than it already is. My senses probably couldn’t handle it (to be honest).
Overall, the Russo brothers have definitely upped their game since Winter Soldier which to me was one of the best Marvel films with its solid storyline and delivery. Civil War is an epic action blockbuster driven by delicate topics like loyalty, grief, and revenge (just to name a few) to further add substance to what could’ve ended up as a purely action-driven superhero film. I genuinely cannot wait to see what the Russo brothers and the writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, have up their sleeves for The Avengers: Infinity War.
Rating: 8 1/2 out of 10