I’ve just had the absolute pleasure of watching the latest Captain America film, Civil War. Be warned – spoilers ahead!
Somewhere in Siberia in 1991, Hydra revives James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes from his decades-long sleep and use control phrases to control him as the Winter Soldier, equipping him with a robotic left arm and brainwashing him to be completely obedient to anyone who recites certain trigger words to him. He is then sent to assassinate a motorist and steal a briefcase filled with bags of Super Soldier serum.
In the present, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson and Wanda Maximoff stop a terrorist group led by Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos, Nigeria. During the fight, a hasty action by Maximoff results in a building accidentally being bombed, killing a number of Wakandan relief aid workers.
After giving a speech at MIT, Tony Stark is confronted by a grieving mother whose son was killed in the battle in Sokovia with Ultron. Back at their headquarters, the Avengers are paid a visit by Secretary of State Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, who informs them that the United Nations is in the process of passing the “Sokovia Accords”, which will establish an international governing body to monitor and police the rapidly growing number of superhumans. The team is divided over the act; Stark supports government oversight because he feels guilty for his role in creating Ultron, whereas Rogers has become wary of government after Hydra infiltrated and manipulated S.H.I.E.L.D.
In Vienna, where the signing of the Accords is to take place, a terrorist bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. When security cameras reveal the culprit as Bucky, T’Chaka’s son T’Challa vows revenge. Against Romanoff’s advice, Rogers and Wilson decide to go behind Ross’ back and bring in Bucky themselves. Following a tip-off and a grueling chase, Bucky is captured, and Rogers, Wilson, and T’Challa are arrested for obstruction of justice.
While in captivity in Berlin, Bucky is released by Helmut Zemo, who uses Hydra’s trigger words to send him on a rampage. Rogers and Wilson manage to stop him and flee. After coming to his senses, Bucky tells Rogers that Zemo is headed for the Siberian facility where he and other Winter Soldiers were created using the formula he stole in 1991. Rogers calls upon Clint Barton for aid, and he recruits Wanda and Scott Lang to join Rogers’ team.
Stark convinces Ross to let him bring his renegade comrades in, and assembles Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision and Peter Parker to intercept them at Leipzig/Halle Airport. After an entertaining fight, Romanoff lets Rogers and Bucky escape in Stark’s Quinjet, while the rest of their team are captured. Rhodes suffers severe spinal injury after he is accidentally blasted by Vision.
Discovering evidence that Zemo framed Bucky and that Rogers is correct, Stark follows Rogers and Bucky to Sibera without informing Ross, but is himself followed by T’Challa. Rogers and Stark reconcile, and as they explore the facility, they discover that the other Winter Soldiers have been murdered by Zemo, who reveals that he is a Sokovian and wants to punish the Avengers for the death of his family.
Zemo shows Stark a security video from 1991, which reveals Bucky as the assassin who murdered Stark’s parents to steal samples of the Super Soldier serum from their car. A disillusioned and enraged Stark turns on Bucky, forcing Rogers to fight him to save his friend’s life. Bucky loses his robotic arm in the fight, but Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Bucky, leaving behind his shield, accepting that he no longer deserves it. Refusing to let vengeance consume him as it has the others, T’Challa takes Zemo in alive.
Rogers breaks the imprisoned Avengers out of prison and takes them to Wakanda, where T’Challa grants them asylum. In a mid-credits scene, Bucky chooses to be frozen until a cure for his brainwashing can be found. In a post-credits scene, Peter begins testing a “new gadget” while recovering from his injuries.
It was a terrific film, with great direction, fantastic sequencing, a wonderful soundtrack and brilliant editing. With all of that working in favour, there was still room for the acting to steal the show. Everyone involved put in superlative performances – Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olson, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo and Emily VanCamp. However, the one actor who stood above everyone else, for me, was Sebastian Stan. Sebastian gave a truly exceptional performance as Bucky (who has always been a favourite comic character of mine), demonstrating a range of emotion second to none and making every member of the audience empathise and sympathis with aspects of his character. The performance Sebastian gave in Civil War will rank as one of my favourites for a very long time.
This is most certainly a film that I would recommend to anyone.
Thanks for reading.