THE ACCURATE, IF prosaically named Captain America: Civil War, promised well.
The respected critic, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave it four stars. So did the critics of the Telegraph and several other UK newspapers. And the premise (not too far removed from the premise of Batman v Superman) was interesting: after an Avengers’ assault on some bad guys (intent on unleashing some sort of chemical weapon) results in massive collateral damage, the World has had enough. Enough of all the destruction that accompanies the battles of these super heroes. So, in steps the UN Security Council by way of the Secretary of State (William Hurt). Though the UN seems to take decades to agree to anything world threatening (say, climate change), here they rapidly agree on clipping the Avengers’ wings. They demand that this group of territory violating, take no prisoners vigilantes fall in line, and henceforth, act only upon the initiatives vetted, approved and voted on by a special UN panel.
Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, aka Robert Downey Jr. perhaps driven either by conscience or guilt, rapidly falls in line, along with a few of the others (Natasha, the Black Widow – Scarlett Johansson- James Rhodes, the War Machine – Don Cheadle- and Vision – Paul Bettany). Captain America (Chris Evans), however (along with his group of, now, outlaws: Falcon (Jeremy Renner), Wanda (Elizabeth Olson) and others) are having none of it.
It’s a showdown between the – inhibiting – rule of law and the – lawless- freedom to respond as deemed necessary. Is collateral damage just a small price to pay in the battle against terrorism? Or is collateral damage a manifestation of uncaring recklessness?
What a premise! What thought-provoking questions! What a story waiting to be told!
It’s all a sucker punch.
Having gotten the heavy philosophical lifting out of the way in the first fifteen minutes, the next six hours (you mean Captain America: Civil War wasn’t six hours long?) mashes up plot lines about Tony Stark’s murdered parents, a small African country where vibranium (used in Captain America’s shield) has been discovered, and a bomb supposedly planted by Bucky (Sebastian Stan as the super-enhanced Russian soldier). Basically however these are distractions from what is essentially a slug-fest between an invincible Iron Man and an unstoppable Captain America. They bash, smash, crash and make an unsightly hash of each other as they destroy an entire airport and fleets of aircraft. They love each other, they really do (as they keep saying), but, since diplomacy isn’t high on their agendas and fighting is their only way of resolving conflict (not that they’re ten years old or anything), fight they do.
Unbeknownst to them (and maybe directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s sly comment) there’s an uber baddie, Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) who’s worked out (in a way that doesn’t hang together at all) that he’s dealing with mindless action figures and who will kill each other given the right stimulus. So rather than trying to kill them, better to let them kill each other
This super-hero meta-fiction (that probably began with the black suited Spiderman) that our most destructive battles are with ourselves and not others, has finally collapsed under the weight of these six hours of CGI destruction…six hours with absolutely nothing to marvel at.
And while Iron Brain batters away at Captain Foolish, their second fiddle players flutter around to add a few blows here and there, pout lips, flaunt their perfect bods and offer a running commentary of smart-Alec one-liners. In all this tedium, there’s the small sparkle of genuine wit and fun with the introduction (re-boot, re-launch) of the new Spiderman (Tom Holland from Billy Elliott the Musical), a gauche, out of his depths teenager and his hot aunt (Marissa Tomei).
I do owe this movie a debt of gratitude though. Finally, after years of louder and louder destruction, I have finally decided that enough is enough. I’ll stick to lesser super heroes…bring it on Jason Bourne
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. DIr: Anthony and Joe Russso. With Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olson, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Daniel Bruhl, William Hurt, Martin Freeman. Marisa Tomei. Production Designer: Owen Patterson (The Matrix series), Cinematographer: Trent Opaloch (Elysium)