Film, Reviews, Screen Captain America: Civil War movie review – good guy vs good guy becomes bloated blockbuster By Luke Buckmaster | April 29, 2016 | ★★★★★ ★★★★★ When filmmakers broach the task of creating superhero movies that are “interesting” or “different”, they often fall back onto a familiar concept: realigning the perspective of a story so that caped crusaders are viewed in a different – and usually negative – light. Superman was an alien threat in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Batman was an NSA-like snoop chased by police dogs in The Dark Knight. Dr. Manhattan exiled himself to Mars in Watchmen in fear his body would radiate cancer. The X-Men are untrustworthy freaks, magnets for allegories about discrimination and prejudice. Poor old James Bond was considered a dangerous cowboy and shut down in Spectre. Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely flog the “heroes might mean trouble” horse again – if not a dead horse, certainly a dying one – for the setup of Captain America: Civil War. Proceedings begin predictably fast, with a biff-n-boff chase scene through the streets of Lagos, Nigeria between the Avengers and a villain (an angry chap named Crossbones) who looks a bit like Michael from Halloween crossed with The Punisher. It ends badly with the Avengers accidentally bombing a building and killing several innocents. Soon William Hurt (playing U.S. Secretary of State) has them around a boardroom table, playing a highlight reel of news footage showcasing similar deadly whoopseedos from around the world. A leash-tightening idea is floated in the form of a U.N. agreement that would limit the team’s powers, dictating if and when they are deployed. Half the ensemble agree and the other half do not, pre-empting scenes where two groups of exactly the same number frown at each other and assume fighting positions. Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is pro-agreement; a rare example of a mega-rich, white dude who wants to be reined in by the government (“if we can’t accept limitations, we’re no better than the bad guys”). Captain America (Chris Evans) is, appropriately, a dyed in the wool liberal who will do what the powers that be tell him to do only by his cold dead hands. Villain Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) skulks around, plotting to get the group to turn on each other and perhaps instigating something more ambitious. Despite disappearing for huge chunks of an elephantine (146 minute) running time, the Zemo thread is well executed: a reasonably interesting character with a teased-out backstory, and a plan more compelling than standard blowing-the-world-to-pieces shtick. (Note: I am about to mention two characters who appear in small roles about halfway through; if you consider that a spoiler then skip the next paragraph). Zack Snyder, director of Batman v Superman, must surely be feeling outstaged — he thought he was making a stuffed-to-the-hilt frenemy smack-down, only to be beaten a month later by ten or so extra heroes. If Snyder helmed Captain America: Civil War, perhaps he would have insisted on a title that really maxed out brand power (Captain America and Scarlet Witch and Falcon and Ant-Man and Hawkeye and Bucky Barnes v Iron Man and Black Widow and Spider-Man and War Machine and The Vision). Co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo (who helmed Civil War’s predecessor, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) stage the action sequences competently, each underscored by what feels like pathological lip service for fans. These scenes tend to progress the plot by bunging an event onto the end, helping to set up the next 20 minutes or so. A civilian dies, for example, or a hero is detained, leading the characters to waffle about their next move. The core idea of applying government-sanctioned regulation to superheroes initially leads to curious ways to consider Captain America. Uncle Sam got a makeover, beefed up at the gym and now has to deal with the people (nations?) the globetrotting cowboy has pissed off. To say the film drops the ball on this premise is to put it lightly. Used to create division between principal players, the political allegories are mostly abandoned and swapped for character motivation, as if we should never have bothered to contemplate a second meaning in the first place. Less a civil war than a dummy spit, the Russo brothers’ bloated blockbuster is probably best appreciated as a junky good-guy-versus-good-guy crossover-fest: a sort of stretched-out Monster Mash for comic book characters. I lost count of the number of iterations there are of the line “you’re not going to stop, are you?” and the running time is not just inordinate, but almost completely bereft of anything that might resemble narrative efficiency. There are occasions when Civil War stalls for so long you want to shake the screen and yell “hurry up!” An epic airport brawl provides the most fun when it comes to fisticuffs, but it’s also highly derivative and danger-free; little more than a co-ordinated dance routine. With billions of dollars of franchise moolah on the line, the health and well-being of our heroes has never been more assured, even if play-it-safe films like this preposterously attempt to suggest otherwise. Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn Email About the Author: Luke Buckmaster Luke Buckmaster is film critic and writer for Daily Review, and contributes commentary to a range of Australian publications.