The Bock’s Office: ‘Captain America’ — Let’s keep it civil, everyone
So far this year, we’ve seen the guy dressed like a flying mammal fight the man in the long johns and cape, not to mention the regenerating nutcase who should be subject to mattress tag penalties for removal of his mask. Who’d have thought the dude who carries around the red, white and blue circle squaring off with the genius in the crimson and gold metal suit would feel the most natural? Either way, so begins the summer movie season with “Captain America: Civil War.”
If you go…
“Captain America: Civil War,” rated PG-13
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
Running time: 147 minutes
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Sebastian Stan
The work of The Avengers is never done, and rarely do any of the operations performed by the superhero squadron go completely according to plan. When a mission led by Captain America (Chris Evans) to stop a terrorist heist in an African nation results in some significant collateral damage, the world decides they’ve had enough.
The resulting proposal is the Sokovia Accords, an international agreement to keep groups such as the Avengers in check and accountable for their actions.
While Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) thinks the plan will provide stability in a chaotic world, Cap isn’t so sure supervision is the answer.
There isn’t much time for debate — a bombing of a conference full of diplomats only furthers the cause of reining in enhanced individuals when it’s Steve Rogers’ old friend, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), who’s revealed to be responsible.
Cap thinks the incident isn’t as clear-cut as it seems, and soon it’s a race to find the suspect at large, though the disagreement between Rogers and Stark may just be getting started.
Evans has been great from the beginning as one of the characters that goes so far back, he pre-dates the name Marvel Comics — Happy 75th anniversary, Cap. — but here is where he makes his move as a more complex and wise figure, refusing to blindly follow orders, fall into line and salute those he doesn’t trust.
The irony doesn’t end there of course, as Downey’s Stark does away with his usual rebelliousness, more guilt-ridden than he’s ever been regarding his hand in a lot of destruction that could have been avoided and trying to atone. The Iron Man armor can do a lot of things, but it can’t shut out his conscience.
Stan, meanwhile, is especially torn apart as the man who’s battling between the mindless killer he was programmed to be and the old Bucky Barnes who was once Captain America’s closest pal. And, then, there’s the man known only as Zemo (Daniel Brühl) who knows just who to manipulate to enact a larger plot.
Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) side with Stark, as does T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), an African prince who moonlights as its sleek and stealthy protector, while in Cap’s corner are Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), whose blossoming, awkward romance with the android Vision (Paul Bettany) gets put on hold as they realize they completely disagree about the politics at hand.
Oh, there are some other important heroes, big and small, that turn out, but it’s not as though you didn’t already know that if you have an Internet connection.
The screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely diverges from Marvel’s “Civil War” storyline greatly — since a movie with that many characters would be utter bedlam — but the linchpin that is the conflict between Cap and Iron Man remains its selling point.
As directors, the Russo brothers took the title hero into the 21st century in his previous solo adventure, and it’s become more apparent to him this time that there are no easy answers when it comes to his latest predicament. Neither he nor his opponents are totally wrong or right as they carry out or defy mandates handed down from above, each individual having their own justification for doing so.
There is no definitive good or evil here, and while the man who decades ago was punching out Nazis starts out the film toe to toe against a typical villain, it’s when he and his associates are battling someone whose cause isn’t that different from their own that things get more complicated.
“Civil War” is one of the more thoughtful features to come from Marvel and is no doubt successful in providing a slam-bang installment of its ongoing saga. However, what almost proves to be overkill is that for a flick with one guy’s name on the marquee, the Russos really want to turn it into the ensemble effort of the two “Avengers” movies without giving the supporting characters enough screen time, the ensuing fracas nearly getting as sticky as a spider web.
Whoops. Did I give away too much?
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