Review – Captain America: Civil War (2016)

The Russo brothers, who had just mediocre films like ‘You, Me and Dupree’ and ‘Welcome to Collinwood’ to their credit, literally shot to the top with the excellent second instalment in Marvel’s Captain America series. Also, Joss Whedon set the MCU ensemble bar really high with ‘The Avengers’ (2012) and ‘Age of Ultron’ (2015) (with the former being a slightly more entertaining film).

Hence, the Russos had a behemoth of a task at hand while making the third instalment in the Cap series, which by the first look and initial story-reveal looked on route to becoming Avengers 2.5. And boy, did they deliver in style. Civil War is hands-down the best ensemble MCU film by far. It is a definite crowd-pleaser by all means, although we missed the likes of Bruce Banner, Thor and Nick Fury.

Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the writers of Thor 2 and Cap 2, pen a screenplay that strikes a fulfilling balance of action, emotion, comedy, and filled with twists and surprises. Story goes as simple as this: Stark and Rogers are for and against political interference in the activities of the Avengers respectively, and this leads to the team splitting into two, and the events that follow form the core of ‘Civil War’.

While Marvel crazies already knew of the plotline and had watched several scenes of the film published via YouTube, it was undoubtedly a huge task to match the expectation levels set by the previous films. But the Russos have dethroned all previous entries by handing us Civil War. The way the screenplay tackles the character of Bucky Barnes is certainly one of the many highlights in the film. Sebastian Stan returns to play his meatiest role yet, and sheds more light on his Winter Soldier persona. As seen in Cap 2, the set-pieces in Civil War (both on the ground and in the sky) look remarkably well-shot and choreographed. So many swift cuts coupled with fast-paced action elevates the movie to a different platform altogether. Upper-cuts, blows, kicks and punches are landed neatly and put to good effect. The Leipzig airport set-piece positions itself right on top of the list of the best choreographed action sequences ever made on film. Trent Opaloch’s cinematography is reminiscent of his work in District 9, Elysium, Cap 2 and Chappie.

Well, it is unquestionably a treat for the senses to watch Team Cap (Rogers, Bucky, Wilson, Barton, Lang and Maximoff) go head-on-head with Team Iron-Man (Stark, Romanoff, Rhodes, Vision, T’Challa and Parker). The propaganda for each character is etched out with utmost subtlety. Captain America, Iron Man and Bucky Barnes take the bulk of the screen time and they pull off their acts quite convincingly. Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo serves as a great antagonist pulling all the right strings and chooses to spread villainy by making the Avengers go against eachother. Chris Evans is incredible as Cap, while Downey shines in a role that requires him to be comparatively subdued (and guilt-ridden).

While it is unmistakably Cap’s and Iron Man’s film, Civil War fleshes out two major additions to the MCU in astounding fashion..T’Challa a.k.a Black Panther & Peter Parker a.k.a Spiderman. Chadwick Boseman does a great job with what he’s been handed out and sets the stage for his solo film. Tom Holland appears to be the most promising Spiderman yet, and he gets to show off his skills in that wonderfully executed airport sequence. Also, that scene where Tony Stark goes to meet Parker is effing hilarious. Paul Rudd’s Ant Man also made the proceedings a lot wittier and enjoyable. Every character shines in their individual roles, and credit should go to the writers and the directorial duo for giving each superhero an adequate amount of screen time. Except for Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye (who I felt appeared bland and underwritten in this film), all characters leave an impression that is sufficient for the viewer to care for their futures in the upcoming Infinity War films. Stan Lee’s cameo towards the end was a nice touch.

Marvel looks like they hit the jackpot here, especially with DC’s Batman V Superman being strictly a mediocre film and performing way below expectations; they can allow to rest their heads for a bit because the groundwork for the Spiderman / Black Panther solo films as well as the Infinity War sequels have been laid out almost impeccably in Civil War.

Oh, and hold on to your seats for the mid-credits as well as post-credits scenes.😉

**** out of five stars

Watch the trailer here:

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