********* 9 out of 10 *********
Director: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Actors: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan
How do you rate happiness? How do you rate the pleasure of being entertained? It is unjust to rate something that has done its best to give you unadulterated joy, to give you a moment to cherish. Captain America: Civil War does exactly that, setting yet another benchmark for superhero movies. It is the definition of fertile imagination unleashed with restrain. There is an ideology behind its working; there is a method to accomplish its eventual aim; there is an understanding of what to give and what to keep. Anthony Russo and Joe Russo entered the Marvel cinematic universe a few years back with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which in itself was delightfully different in its approach to a superhero movie. And now with Captain America: Civil War, the director duo has fashioned an amazing epic movie, the best that we have seen since Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, that will stand the test of time and raise the bar of movie-making altogether.
Captain America: Civil War has the elements of a political drama in a superhero movie, much like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It could have been easy for the Russo brothers and the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (who have worked on all three Captain America movies) to get caught up once again in the hive of a political thriller when the Avengers are asked to sign the Sokovia Accords, which will establish an international governing body to control them. It is here that the first signs of rift develop between the Avengers as Captain America believes that they should remain independent while Iron Man firmly accepts that there should be limitations on their powers. But when Captain America’s old friend Bucky aka Winter Soldier is implicated in a serious crime, the rift widens to something deeper, something more powerful that threatens to destroy the Avengers as we have come to know them. And that is how the writers, Markus and McFeely, manage to go beyond the political agenda into something more personal and ideological to come up with an exciting and even reflective script, one of the best seen in the superhero genre.
The thing I love about the Marvel movies is the painstaking effort taken to maintain the high quality standards that the studio has set for itself, and to even try to better them. The fame of the superheroes is not taken for granted; their global appeal is not assumed to live forever. That is easy to understand with Captain America: Civil War. The Russo brothers appear to have held each shot accountable, as to whether it serves a purpose or not. Despite such a vast cast of superheroes in the mix (during the big fight, there are six of them on each side!), the Russo brothers still manage to provide a reasoning behind everyone’s actions, a history supporting their decisions, an authenticity as to why they have chosen their respective paths. Each part of the movie clicks in place in the final picture that is being painted, and that is a tribute to the dedication shown by the Russo brothers in leaving out the clutter to provide us with the best cinematic experience.
We have come to love each and everyone of the Avengers now, and so it is indeed an emotional roller coaster that we go through when Captain America and Iron Man clash. There has been a clash of ideas right from the beginning, but the friendship that grew from it now cracks, and this adversity forms the soul of most of the movie. Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. are absolutely terrific once again, both of them having come a long way since the time they played these characters many years before. It has been a journey that we have taken with them, seeing them grow as actors while their characters grew on screen. Chris Evans playing the righteous one and Robert Downey, Jr. playing the egoistic hero raise the emotional quotient of their characters to another level as their past gets connected. Simply terrific! The old bunch is here once more, barring Thor and Hulk, making this a mini-Avengers film. Scarlett Johansson is devilishly charming as Black Widow again and I keep wondering what is stopping Marvel from carving out a standalone film for her. Sebastian Stan shines the brightest in his third outing in the Captain America series, finding himself being in a place somewhere between Bucky and the Winter Soldier, and nails that role. I won’t go through all the other actors, but each one brings new and refreshing element to the screen where you do not want to blink and miss something. Among the new introductions, Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther has a much bigger role than I had thought and glides into it so smoothly as if he has been doing it his whole life. You will find Tom Holland to be charming as the latest Spider-Man and this sets up beautifully for his upcoming standalone movie. Daniel Brühl makes for a smart, dangerous and difficult-to-predict villain, very different in what he brings to the screen as compared to the older ones. William Hurt (from The Incredible Hulk) returns to the Marvel world now as Secretary of State, while Martin Freeman and Marisa Tomei have limited roles which may grow in the future movies.
No review for Captain America: Civil War can be complete without raving about the action sequences. They are terrific and much more! Even though we have seen these superheroes fight on-screen for such a long time, the Russo brothers manage to bring in something new in each of the fights that make them irresistible to watch. The massive fight that takes place amongst the superheroes is the kind where you may forget to breathe, as the little kid in you gleefully jumps with joy, hoping that this magical moment does not end. The action sequences have been wonderfully choreographed, and more importantly placed at the right moments in the movie so that there is no overdose of them. The music by Henry Jackman is the cherry on the cake, elevating our senses further!
Marvel’s Phase III continues to roll smoothly, expertly guided by the Russo brothers, and the all-seeing Marvel President Kevin Feige ensuring that no one slackens. The challenge will continue to be thrown at Marvel, to keep on coming out with something that we haven’t seen before, a tough ask when you consider the growing superhero franchises outside Marvel too. But with the Russo brothers in charge of the next Avengers movie, and a whole new set of superheroes to be introduced beginning with Doctor Strange later in the year, I won’t be betting on Marvel letting us down anytime soon!