Captain America: Civil War opened in theaters nationwide on Friday, ushering in the time of year where action movies abound. Much like last year, when Mad Max: Fury Road began the action-movie season, this year’s summer opens with an impressively made, well-directed film, with outstanding performances from all cast members. Unfortunately, also like Mad Max, Captain America is not written half as well as it is acted or directed.
In Lagos, Nigeria, Captain America, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow fight and defeat Brock Rumlow, preventing him from stealing a WMD. In the process, however, Scarlet Witch attempts to control a suicide bomb Rumlow detonates, but instead, it accidentally explodes and kills Wakandan humanitarian workers. At the same time, Tony Stark is sent on a guilt trip by the mother of an American boy who died while spending his summer in Sokovia. The latest incident, coupled with all the other destruction the Avengers have left in the wake of fighting evil, leads to the creation of the Sokovia Accords, which states that the Avengers would be under the authority of a special UN panel.
Stark, in addition to his guilt over creating Ultron, argues that without accepting limitations, the Avengers are no better than the bad guys; Rodgers counters with a strong sense of moral obligation and the argument that their power in the hands of others makes less sense than if they were left to their own devices. During the signing, a bomb explodes outside the meeting venue, killing the Wakandan king. The Winter Soldier is implicated in its detonation, causing Rodgers and Falcon to help him escape from the law while tracking down those truly responsible. Their escape fails, and they, are brought to a high-security compound, where Stark pleads one last time with Rodgers to sign the agreement. He refuses, and he, Falcon, and the Winter Soldier escape from the compound. Stark offers to be the one to talk down Rodgers and bring him in and gathers a team to combat and subdue Rodgers and his allies.
In a film of this magnitude, all the technical aspects must be on point, specifically the film editing, sound editing, and sound mixing. Thankfully for Captain America, these three aspects of the movie are flawless. While special effects have customarily been a huge part of other Marvel films, the visuals here, while outstanding when used, play a smaller role than audiences are accustomed to, given the lack of aliens, falling buildings, and Hulk-smashing. The Russo brothers wonderfully combined all the aspects of the film to make it a greatly enjoyable experience visually.
The acting, while usually above average for action movies, found a whole new level in this piece. The supporting cast performs well enough, but best among them are Tom Holland and Chadwick Boseman. These newcomers to the superhero genre turn in two of the three best performances in the film. Holland’s childlike performance as Spider-Man is a breath of fresh air, and Boseman’s character, Black Panther, with the combination of a fantastic set of skills and the best-looking superhero suit, is easily the most fun to watch in the movie. Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. have always had great chemistry and always make us believe that they secretly love each other while constantly being at odds on the surface. While this movie is about Captain America, Downey steals the show with a better and deeper performance than Evans’ perennial “good guy doing good guy things and nothing else” persona. While there’s nothing wrong with being a good guy doing only good guy things in a superhero film, in this particular one, the writing makes this part of Rodgers more of a flaw than a gift. It is at this point I warn of spoilers in the next paragraph, as my issues with the writing come at key points in the film.
The script is a huge flaw in this otherwise flawless film. The biggest issue comes at the end of the film. Rodgers, Stark, and Bucky tracked down the person responsible for the bombing at the UN meeting. The man responsible, Helmut Zemo, shows Stark that it was a mind-controlled Bucky Barnes responsible for the deaths of his parents. Stark, understandably, loses control, and goes after Barnes, blasting off his metal arm in the process. Rodgers joins the fight and, after nearly being knocked unconscious, beats Stark to a bloody pulp, and flees with Barnes. At the end of the film, Rodgers sends Stark a note, graciously offering his assistance should Stark ever need it. How noble of the always-good Captain America! He nearly kills the man who helped found the Avengers, his best friend from this millennium, and a man who was distraught and had just found out who was responsible for the deaths of his parents, yet somehow he is the one offering his help to Stark. What a great guy Rodgers is. The script was falling apart at the seams before this part, but here is where the seams turned to dust in the wind.
Aside from the semi-fatal blow dealt by the script, the film is a great deal of fun. Though two and a half hours long, Captain America: Civil War goes by incredibly fast, with action bursting around each corner and substantially better performances than every previous Marvel film. This is a great way to open the summer blockbuster season.
Rating: 6.5 slices out of 8
Reminds me of a slice of Thin Crust Pizza. It tastes just as good as a regular slice, but you can still tell something is missing.